Take offense = zero-sum game

By Dave Henning / July 20, 2023

“When you take offense, you stop playing offense.  Your defense mechanisms kick in, and you start protecting your ego at all costs.  It becomes a zero-sum game, and no one really wins.  If you want to experience the miraculous, you have to offer forgiveness.”- Mark Batterson

“The true saint burns grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff.”- Dallas Willard

In Chapter 7 (“The Fifth Petition”) of Please Sorry Thanks, Mark Batterson firsts describes what forgiveness is not.  Above all, forgiveness is not:

  • excusing bad behavior.
  • justifying injustice.
  • even pardoning what someone did; that’s God’s job – and it’s beyond our pay grade.
  • turning a blind eye or subjecting yourself to someone else’s sin.

When Peter cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, he found himself in a world of trouble.  Enough trouble, Mark believes, to probably end up on a cross next to Jesus.  But Jesus healed Malchus and reattached his ear.  However, Pastor Batterson points out, there’s something bigger happening here.  As Dick Foth puts it, “Jesus destroys the evidence against us.”

Most significantly, Mark looks at forgiveness as a miracle.  He states:

“We don’t think of forgiveness as miraculous, but that’s precisely what it is.  Jesus turned water into wine.  He walked on water. . . .  As amazing as those miracles are, His single act of forgiveness surpasses them all.  In my humble opinion, this is the greatest miracle in the Gospels.”

In conclusion, Michele Nelson made a distinction between three degrees of forgiveness (doctoral dissertation):

 1.  First-degree forgiveness: detached forgiveness.  It includes a reduction in negative feelings toward the offender.  But not reconciliation occurs.

 2.  Second-degree forgiveness: limited forgiveness.  Here there’s also a reduction in negative feelings toward the offender.  And while there’s partial restoration of the relationship, the emotional intensity increases.

3.  Third-degree forgiveness: full forgiveness.  Negative feelings totally cease and the relationship is fully restored.

Today’s question: What most causes you to take offense?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The reach and need of God’s grace”

About the author

Dave Henning

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