Jesus had just cleared the Temple area of the money-changers and merchants. The crowd then started bringing Him all their sick…and He healed them all it says. To add to this building excitement, the children were running among the people shouting praises to God! But when the Pharisees and the Sadducees entered the Temple area, they didn’t see the amazing miracles, or hear the beautiful worship… they instead took offense. Rather than rejoicing in the goodness of God, they in selfish indignation chose to be insulted and offended by what they saw and heard. We need to be wary of taking the bait of Satan, which is taking offense…especially during this current time of difficulty and fear. We can’t judge or second guess people when we don’t know all that’s going on in their life right now. We also can’t allow selfish anger to well up when we think our needs aren’t being met. Now is the time to turn outside ourselves, to guard against taking offense, and to come together.
A root of bitterness flourishes in the person that takes offense easily. For when they feel that someone has insulted them…they react not with grace but with indignity and resentment. And if allowed to grow, this root of bitterness leads to a wounded spirit that is of no use to God. And when this happens among Believers in a Church setting…this is when we see division and disunity. As Believers, we need to fight for unity within the Body…not murmur, gripe, and easily take offense.
Peter asked Jesus just how many times he had to forgive someone, and he used the Old Testament number of seven. (Genesis 4:24) But Jesus answered Peter’s question by saying, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” So it’s not really about numbers, it’s more about our response to that transgression against us. When we forgive someone, we’re letting go of resentment…we’re refusing to take offense…and we’re not allowing a root of bitterness to grow. For just as God forgives us, we must forgive others. (Matthew 6:14-15)
Every once in a while I come across a person who enjoys holding onto bitterness. They recount to me impressive dates and details of past hurts and offenses. They wear these perceived insults as badges, ever brooding over them…playing them over and over in their minds. Pathetically, their vindictiveness and obsession has literally taken over their entire life. This root of bitterness has taken ahold, and grown into an ugly creature that no one can hardly recognize.