Refusing to Take Offence
Before reading on, please be sure to read this truly astonishing story of a man who was sent to prison for life without parole for a crime he did not commit.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this testimony is that he appears to have refused to take offence. How easy it would have been for him to do so – and how justified we would have thought him!
The amazing thing is that Gene came to the point where he was able to say, Thank you to those who held him in prison unjustly. He could have gotten angry with God Himself for allowing him to be in this situation, but instead, he got down as low as he could and prostrated himself before the Lord on the concrete floor of his prison cell.
Would you have been able to do that had you been in Gene’s situation? Would you not rather have protested your innocence loudly and railed at God for allowing you to suffer so? It is so easy to take offence at the way we have been treated even over really small things that people have said to or about us. It comes so readily to most of us.
The proverb tells us that,
A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarrelling is like the bars of a castle. (Pr. 18:19)
How true it is! As regrets turn to resentments, we can become more and more unyielding, our gates closed ever more firmly against all comers – even the Lord Himself. For when we permit seeds of resentment to take root, we are hosting something that can only bring spiritual death with it.
Initially, those little seeds may well be hidden, and sprout and grow unseen. But sooner rather than later they become evident and their tendrils twine and twist themselves around every part of our character. Unless we specifically address these issues and seek God’s cleansing, they will exercise a warping, distorting effect in us, and leave us unable to grow into the fullness that He had intended for us; works that He had planned for us will be left undone – just look at the work in the prison that God was able to do through Gene because he was yielded!
Gene’s response to his situation is, as the article’s author says, ‘remarkable.’
“I’m just a servant; I’ve no rights; I’ve no entitlements . . . No sin against me has been greater than my sin against God. As freeing and liberating as it was for me to receive and know God’s forgiveness in my life, it is every bit as freeing and liberating to forgive and let others go who have hurt me.”
A while ago, we published an article called ‘Taking offence or giving thanks?’
Gene chose to give thanks. May the Lord help each one of us do likewise.
Link to Helen Roseveare article.