I remember watching the Incredible Hulk with my dad when I was little. I remember the opening intro to the show… how David Banner was a scientist… then “You don’t want to make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” I remember my dad joking about it later on… “You don’t want to make me angry. You won’t like me when I’m angry.” It was a running joke in my family. Don’t take dad’s dessert, he may get angry! Ha! What I remembered about the show was that David Banner the scientist was always put in situations where he had to save someone from the evil villain. Maybe it was an abused child, or a single mom, or the owner of the orphanage. He was the hero. He saved the day. And always took out the bad guys to save the innocent.
Okay. I can get mad. Sometimes about something someone said to me or maybe at something I thought they said about me or my family. I have been known to assume a negative connotation in what they said. Then there was the time that I was offended at something I knew or assumed was directed at me.
Or how about the time that I chose to be offended on someone else’s behalf like the Hulk (otherwise known as offense by proxy)? They said this about my child? My husband? My sister? My dad? My mom? My _____. These are borrowed offenses. The borrowed offense is one we take up for what someone has done or said to someone we love or care about other than ourselves.
Oooooo that makes me mad. I take on that person’s offense. But is it right? We can be mad. We can even be angry. But it is what we choose to DO with that emotion is the rub.
Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay, says the Lord.’ “
Being offended for someone else can seem like a very justified emotional stance. If we’re offended it must mean that we have standards, morals, and/or know right from wrong. It must also mean that we know how to behave and what to say at all moments, and why the heck doesn’t everybody else? Why can’t people be more like us? So, was that my problem when I took so much offense? Well, yes. The term “indignant” could certainly be used to describe me back then, but only because I was also a tad self-righteous. Okay. Not a tad. I WAS selfrighteous. Is this God’s way? Is this God’s plan? Are WE to butt in and be the hero and save the day?
“Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” (Psalm 15:1-3).
We are not to take up an offense on behalf of someone else. This is when we harbor ill-will against a person for what they did to someone else.
Sometimes offended persons will seek sympathy from naive, listening ears. They go about pleading their case, pouring out their bleeding-heart of injustice to those sincere, tenderhearted persons who will listen. Their goal is to seek out persons who will coddle them, support their opinion and take up their offense against the offending party.
Proverbs 6:16-19 shows how God hates this type of action.
“These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”
You should love and encourage a friend with hurt feelings, but reserve your opinion and avoid taking sides as 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 states; “Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous, love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offense, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end.”
I believe the message is this: this isn’t about us. We are not helping (or being the hero) by taking on the offense of others. It is hard to love our enemies if we’re mad at (or offended by) them. And we are not being peacemakers by talking to everyone we know about the “problem”.
Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”
Proverbs 26:17 Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.
The borrowed offense is more difficult to forgive than offenses that are against us personally. When you borrow an offense there is hardly an opportunity for reconciliation. The “offender” can’t come to you and repent if he doesn’t even know that you are offended. Also, we need to try to avoid hearing only one side of an argument or issue. What we hear may be true, but not necessarily the whole truth. We also need to avoid listening to an evil report about someone else, no matter how it’s disguised (even if it’s presented as a prayer request) – we are infected by it.
I don’t ever remember David Banner (the Hulk) checking the story before he got all angry. But it is important that we do not immediately “believe” everything we hear. If we are told something against our Christian brother or sister, we should be try to bring peace to the conversation. If we cannot immediately disprove it, it should die with us and go no further. Likewise, if a Christian brother or sister speaks ill of someone in your presence then immediately is sorry and apologizes, we should honor that and forgive. It should go no further. Strive for peace. Preserve their reputation. Think of your brother as high above yourself. For love will cover a multitude of sins.
Proverbs 19:11 says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
What do you do when others want to involve you in their offense? They may come to you for ‘advice’. (Gossip really). They may come to you with a ‘prayer request’ or ‘a matter of concern.’ (Let’s call it for what it is—gossip and hatred.) What do you do when the phone rings? When they corner you in the hallway?
Be committed to forthrightness, truth, peace and love. Encourage people who have been wronged to do the right thing. “Obviously this situation is bothering you a great deal. The Bible says that we are go to the one who offended us and work it out. Have you done that? If not, then we shouldn’t be talking about it. It is gossip. Go to this person with whom you have offense against and try to reconcile. If you are afraid to go alone, I will be glad to go with you and reconcile the matter.”
Matt. 18:15-17 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Or one who does not know Jesus and now you should be concerned for his very soul!
We are not to take on our fellow Christian’s personal offenses. Nor should we harbor ill-will against a person for what they did to someone else. God’s ways are not our ways. We must separate ourselves from the world. If you have people in your life that expect you to take on their offenses, Titus 3:10 has the answer. “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” TITUS 3:10.
I know I will be tempted to be offended on someone else’s behalf. But unlike the Hulk, I have a choice. I can allow the Holy Spirit to do a work in me regarding this and ask for His help when tempted. My focus? To be a peacemaker, defend others’ reputation by not taking part in gossip and letting love rule all that I do.