Hold Your Peace: Avoiding Offense

He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his peace. ~ Proverbs 11:12

 “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” ~ Exodus 14:14

Hold your peace…what in the world does that mean?  In order to hold your peace, the assumption is that you HAVE peace, right?  Hold your peace…

I have been a fighter my whole life.  I have always been one to want the last word. I have battled pride.  I have handed that character defect over to the Lord and I stand on Exodus 14:14 believing that the Lord WILL fight for me. This belief is centered on knowing that I am in His will, led by the Holy Spirit, and not in my flesh. These two verses that I’ve highlighted, committed to memory, written on my heart, serve to keep me from being offended.

I have been wounded in so many areas of my soul. I have bound myself to so many people in my past through dysfunctional familial, emotional and sexual relationships. I came to the cross of Christ a very broken, rejected, unloved, abandoned, angry, needy, addicted, abused, and wounded woman.  I needed intensive care and Jesus gave me that through the person of the Holy Spirit. I have learned that when I needed deep healing and deliverance, that there are some things that will only come out through fasting and prayer.  I pray in tongues more than I pray in English. Why?  Because my  mind is unfruitful when I pray in tongues. I am limited in my understanding and the Spirit is infinite and limitless. I gain peace that surpasses all understanding when I do this, just like the Word says that I will in Philippians 4!

So, maybe you don’t believe in praying in tongues.  Maybe it freaks you out a little…I get it!  The Word will work for you just like it works for me! In order to HOLD YOUR PEACE, you must have peace to hold. Scripture says that we will gain peace to guard our hearts and minds when we don’t worry but when we pray and have an attitude of gratitude. This is called CASTING YOUR CARES on the Lord, also known as a prayer of commitment. A prayer of commitment means that you COMMIT your worries, anxieties, doubts, fears, and cares to God…and don’t take them back. There is no need to pray about them after you give them to Him.  He’s got it.

Imagine that you are 14 years old and you are out to eat with your parents. You order your food and sit down to eat.  You finish your meal, the check comes.  Are you worried about who will pay it?  Are you concerned whether or not Dad has the money?  Did you consider all of this before you sat down to eat?  NO, because you know your father and that he works on your behalf to provide for you and has your best interest at heart.  Your heavenly Father is even more concerned for your needs! Don’t worry!! Commit your needs, doubts, cares, etc to Him and leave it alone!  If you tried to tell your dad how to pay the bills in the house, you would likely get yourself into trouble.  Stop trying to tell God how to handle His business!

Now that we understand how to GAIN PEACE, let’s talk about how to HOLD YOUR PEACE.  I minister to women and they can catch a feeling in a second. Many of them are on the road to healing, but not there yet.  Sometimes they take one step forward and two steps back. I can say something with the best of intentions, but if the person I am speaking to is hurt or not healed, their filter is clogged and inevitably they will be offended.

I have decided to PICK MY BATTLES. There are moments when I choose not to respond because I would rather wisely HOLD MY PEACE than despise my neighbor. If a person gets hurt even when I have the best of intentions, what am I to do?  If I have no idea what I did, or even that they are hurt by me?  I will HOLD MY PEACE. I cannot validate or judge anyone’s feelings, just as they can’t judge my intentions. I can acknowledge what I see, but even that offends!  So…it’s best to HOLD MY PEACE.

What does this mean?  KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!

Here are FIVE statements I wish I had not ever made, in no particular order [however you’re welcome to rate them]

1.  “YES” [when I wanted to say NO!]

We do not have to participate in EVERYTHING.  It is so easy to say yes and be a people-pleaser.  What happens?  We over-extend ourselves and live a life of chaos.  This is a distraction of the enemy.  He wants to get you so focused on pleasing man that you don’t please God.  He will get you so busy that you are not productive.  You are always late, nothing gets finished, you are completely overwhelmed and then what happens?  You just QUIT!  Don’t let this be you.  Be honest. If the answer is NO, then let it be NO. You do not want to have to go back on your word.

2.  “God won’t give you more than you can handle. Suck it up.”

I have said this more than once in my immaturity.  Here is what Scripture actually says in 1 Cor 10:13:

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

God’s grace is sufficient.  He gives us MORE than we can handle so that we are dependent on Him and He is glorified in the victory. We allow Him to handle…we are to stand firm on His Word, His Promises. I love when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. Jesus had just been affirmed by The Father.  He is about to begin His ministry.  He has been fasting.  He is weak…and temptation comes. The devil tempts Christ in trying to have Him do something that is contrary to the nature of God. The enemy played on His natural weakness, not accounting for His spiritual strength. What did Jesus do? He gave Him the Word…He fought with His Sword. In temptation, we must do the same.  He shows us a way out…[wisdom]…so that we can endure. His grace is sufficient and His power works best in weakness [2 Cor 12:9].

3.  “I would NEVER _____________”

No matter WHAT you fill in the blank, this is condemnation.  Anytime I use the word ‘never’ or ‘always’ it should only be in reference to Jesus because He is the only perfect One.  These words are drenched in finality and eternity.  I lead a pro-life sidewalk advocacy ministry at Powerhouse Church in Katy, Texas.  I have trained volunteers to counsel on the sidewalk.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say to me “I just don’t understand how a woman could ever have an abortion.” OR “I don’t understand how anyone could EVER work in an abortion clinic.”  I do not put these people on the sidewalk. If they would stand and tell me this [I have HAD an abortion and I work for And Then There Were None helping clinic workers leave the industry] I can’t gauge what will come out of their mouth in front of a fearful, abortion-minded woman.  These words pierce past scar tissue directly to the heart and create new wounds. We must learn to be compassionate and loving, we don’t ever know the battle that someone is waging.

A better way: start with a testimony of a time when you did something really depraved. This evens the ground and breaks the silence. Many times the Holy Spirit places people in front of us because He wants us to testify to His goodness.  It is His goodness that draws men [and women] to repentance.  When we draw a line with ‘never’ and ‘always’ we exclude or isolate.  We separate ourselves from a sinner when we act ‘self-righteous’.  Don’t EVER forget where you came from.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
    and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
    out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
    and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
    They will put their trust in the Lord.

~ Psalm 40:1-3

4.  ANYTHING…[sometimes I just wish I had said NOTHING]

Listening is a ministry.  [NOT eavesdropping or gossiping] There are so many times when I wish I had just listened and not said a word. If you listen long enough, you will hear the need. I must submit and surrender my judgments, assumptions, prejudices and experiences and ‘get in their boat’. I have found that as the person confesses the hurt or transgression, the Holy Spirit begins to bring to their remembrance the Truth and they are set free without my “assistance”. Just being present and representing Christ is enough sometimes.

5.  NOTHING…[other times I should have spoken up]

I have carried offense because I would not go to a person and tell them the truth. This root of bitterness harmed ME, not the other person. Time does not heal all wounds, JESUS DOES.  Confession comes by way of the mouth, not osmosis.  We must open our mouths and speak about the hurts we carry.  Healing begins because of the exposure. The devil has no power over the transgression once the light shines on it.I have also watched someone fall deeper into depravity because I was more concerned about whether they would be angry with me than what the Holy Spirit was telling me. If we love our neighbor, we will be an example of Christ’s love.  We may not have to SAY anything, but our actions proclaim boldly the Truth that binds us.  IF the moment comes when you do need to speak up, don’t stifle the unction of the Spirit.  Let Him guide you and get out of the way. He is a Wonder-Worker! Words as smooth as velvet have flowed from my lips and I had no idea where they came from because I allowed Him to use me and be a mouthpiece for God and He got ALL the glory…because I am just NOT THAT SWEET🙂

 

Some people choose to make life altering decisions based on the thoughtless remarks and actions of other people.  They literally end marriages, jobs, friendships, cut familial ties, and change churches because of a comment or a snub. HOLD MY PEACE has become the STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE in guarding my heart.

  1. HOLD – Pause before speaking, gauge your words.

  2. YOUR – This is for YOU, not someone else.

  3. PEACE – Protect yourself. Will this hurt you?

It’s difficult to just let things go sometimes, but it’s worse to live with bitterness built up in your heart through which everything is filtered. As you let go of each consecutive offense, you will intentionally heal. Yes, intentionally.  It takes effort on your part.  I will not tell you that it is easy.  I also won’t tell you that people will understand.

I have had several instances where my peace policy is tried. The enemy has used several people in my life to try to incite a riot within my heart. I call these people “sandpaper”.  They may rub me the wrong way and irritate me but in the end, they are refining me. Their goal may not be to smooth out my edges, but I have control over my response and I choose to be refined through the frustration.

Ultimately, LOVE covers a multitude of sin. If you have offended someone, apologize.  If your apology isn’t enough, simply pray for them. If you have earnestly asked the Lord to search your heart and are right with Him, just pray for the other person. I have learned to not be led by feelings – mine or another person’s. My hope is to please the Lord and love people. I cannot control how that love is received.

I see many people offended over the slightest thing but not really offended over what hurts God’s heart.  We have so much injustice in this world yet we are too busy crying over how Susie didn’t tag me in her post on Facebook or how Rachel did not invite me to her birthday bash to even care…  The enemy has us distracted and we continue to buy more and more distraction. When you find yourself hurt or offended, check your own heart first. Seriously.  Is your filter clogged?  HOLD YOUR PEACE!