3 Steps to Laying Down Offense


June 13, 2024
5 min read

It’s not about excusing hurtful behavior — it’s about freeing ourselves from the burden of bitterness and resentment.


In life, community is invaluable. Whether it’s with our teams, coworkers, families, or friends, we are designed to walk this journey together. One of the biggest challenges we face in relationships is dealing with offense. It’s an inevitable part of being human, and learning how to handle it is crucial for growth and maturity in both leadership and life.

In Matthew 24:10, Jesus says, “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate each other.” In today’s world, living in a state of offense has become all too common. What’s interesting is that in this verse, the Greek word for “offense” is “skandalon.” Translated, it means “trap.” This scripture is saying that we can actually become trapped in offense if we don’t lay it down. The longer we carry it, the heavier it becomes. Instead of hurting the other person, we’re actually trapping ourselves.

The good news is that we don’t have to stay trapped in offense. Once we begin to uncover it, no matter how long we’ve been holding a grudge or nursing the wound, there are practical steps we can take to lay down our offense and walk in freedom.

1. Handle It Quickly

Offense often starts small, like a splinter. Initially, it might be so insignificant that we don't even notice it. However, if left untreated, that tiny splinter can become infected and cause significant pain.

In the same way, offense usually begins with something minor, like an offhand remark or a thoughtless joke. We might brush it off for a while, but if we never address it, the offense can grow into a much bigger problem than the original incident.

Ignoring the issue or sweeping it under the rug won't make it disappear. Offense tends to fester and grow, eventually turning into anger. Unaddressed anger can grow into resentment, which leads to bitterness, eventually evolving into unforgiveness and hate.

A spirit of offense won't release us on its own; we must choose to let it go. One of the most valuable lessons we can learn is to deal with offense quickly. The best time to address an offense is when it first arises; we should meet every offense with immediate forgiveness. As Martin Luther King Jr. wisely said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” Rather than being quick to react, accuse, defend, or withdraw, we should establish the habit of being quick to forgive.

2. Fix Your Focus

To guard ourselves against offense, we need to learn to play offensively. Just like a runner focused on the finish line, we must constantly remind ourselves that we are moving forward—not looking side to side or getting stuck in the past.

To play offensively means making a proactive decision to live unoffended. It’s setting boundaries, practicing empathy, and keeping a wider perspective. Instead of allowing momentary setbacks to derail our progress, we can use them as opportunities to strengthen our relationships and walk in grace. 

Instead of letting offense dictate our worth, we can choose to focus on our growth and goals. A moment of hurt doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Our lives move in the direction we’re looking. Are we focused on the offense, or are we focused on the path laid out before us?

3. Choose Your Response

When the world shouts to cancel those who offend us, the Kingdom whispers to extend grace.

Praying for those we love is sincerity. Praying for those who hurt us is maturity. No one is exempt from offense, but every moment of offense is an opportunity to lay down our offense and walk in the Kingdom way. 

Offended? Forgive them.

Angry? Bless them. 

Hurt? Pray for them.

This approach requires a conscious choice to rise above our immediate emotions and respond with compassion and wisdom. It’s not about excusing hurtful behavior — it’s about freeing ourselves from the burden of bitterness and resentment. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

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