Love the Lord, Lose the Bitterness
By Amber Houk
Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
“She called me a cream puff.” a student wailed from the other side of my classroom. Is that a bad thing? I wondered inwardly. A cream puff sounds pretty good right now. I smothered my smile and turned to address the situation. While talking with the offended student I realized she needed the sweetness of love to dilute the bitter insult from her friend.
This comical classroom conundrum reminds me of a verse I read recently – Psalm 119:165 which says “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” Psalm 119 includes many synonyms for God’s Word such as law, statutes, and commandments. When we love God’s Word, we can exchange the bitter taste of offense for the sweetness of peace as we notice His love for us.
Offense often tastes like rejection from family and friends, poor customer service, or ignored relationships. As I contemplated Psalm 119:165 I wondered how the Bible defines the word offend.
Here’s how I satisfied my spiritual appetite. Because the Bible is its own dictionary we can read all of the verses in the Bible containing a particular word to help us define it. I visited BibleGateway.com and searched for the word offend. Note: You could broaden your search to include other forms of the word such as offending, offender, or offense but for the purpose of this study I focused on the root word offend and the word offended. Twenty-three verses in the Bible use the word offend and twenty-four verses use the word offended. I skimmed them, noticing patterns as I read. Many verses mentioned relationships, breaking the law, and wronging others. And, of course, I noted the famous passages in the gospels teaching us to cut off something that offends us. (See Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:8-9, Mark 9:43, 45 & 47.)
Through considering each letter in the word offend a definition formed in my mind: Offense comes through the open door of a relationship. It is formed by actions and words that engage the senses. How do we react? We say no to the things that bring us down. We cut them off.
Feast on the following verses to expand your spiritual palate. Allow God’s Word to tantalize the taste buds of your understanding about the word offend as you dine on His Word.
O – Offense oozes through the open door of relationships.
When we form close connections with others we have more opportunities to be offended by them. Proverbs 18:19 tells how an offense can affect our relationship with our brother. It says, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
FF – The two Fs in offend form a disarming duo of actions and words which can turn a sweet union into sour discord.
James 3:2 reminds us how our words and actions affect others. It says, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”
E – Offense engages our senses by opening up a palate of emotions.
Matthew 24:10 says “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” This verse highlights how a bite of acerbic offense leaves a bitter aftertaste of betrayal and hatred.
How do we sweeten the bitterness of offense? The last two letters of the word offend answer.
N – We say “no” to the offense.
Instead of focusing on the offense we concentrate on the Bible’s big goal which is to share the feast of gospel peace with others. Mathew 11:5-6 seasons our meal with truth, “…the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”
D – We cut off the rottenness of offense which threatens to bring us down.
Matthew 18:8 defines this process. It says, “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.”
“I’m sorry for calling you a cream puff.” offered the offender with a sweet smile. The offended student realized the love her friend showed was more important than remaining offended over the gooey insult. The next time the aftertaste of offense flavors your day, remember my “cream puff” labeled student and sweeten the bitterness of offense with the love of Jesus, the Living Word.
Amber Houk loves to fuel passion for God’s Word, one conversation at a time. She writes @readtruthtogether on Instagram and https://readtruthtogether.substack.com.
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