God does not, however, observe our offenses as a mere member of the audience, but as the director of the whole drama. In the theater of the universe, every offense — no matter how trifling — is part of the play. Every word, every gesture has been given its act, scene, and line by the one who sends “various trials,” including offenses, so that our faith might be tested, proven, and precious (1 Peter 1:6–7).
On this side of heaven, in fact, offenses are part of our calling as Christians: “To this you have been called,” Peter tells us (1 Peter 2:21). And why? “Because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Following Jesus means imitating Jesus, and imitating the man of sorrows cannot happen apart from trouble, distress, and offense. These are the stages where God calls us to proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9).
Therefore, as Calvin writes,
When we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation. (Institutes, 1.17.8)
God sends every offense. Therefore, mount up to God — be mindful of God — and know that the daggers others throw your way will become in God’s hand chisels to fashion you into the image of Christ.
3. God Will Judge Every Offense
We can overlook offenses not only because God sees our offenses and sends our offenses, but also because God will judge every offense. Christians follow the pattern of Jesus, who did not exact vengeance when he hung on the cross, though he could have called down twelve legions of angels (Matthew 26:53). Instead, he handed his handfuls of agony to his Father, and “continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
We naturally consider the judgment of God in the context of the greatest of wrongs — as we should. The day is coming when the Son of God will descend to earth with a sword, casting down every proud oppressor and raising up the meek to inherit the earth (Revelation 19:15; Matthew 5:5). “Vengeance is mine” is a well deep enough for even the most mistreated to draw hope (Romans 12:19). But God’s judgment changes how we react to small offenses as well. If God will right even the biggest wrongs, then we do not need to take even the smallest into our own hands.
Whether the offenses against us are titanic or trifling, God’s judgment frees us to exchange bitterness for patience, retribution for mercy. The very word judgmentbrings to mind our own offenses against God, offenses that cried out for our blood until Jesus shed his own. It reminds us that our offender, if outside of Christ, deserves our pity and, if inside Christ, needs our brotherly love. It removes all self-righteousness from our mouths and replaces it with the Christlike plea of “Lord, forgive them.” It beckons us to release our “right” to get even, and to hand over our cause to him who judges justly.
Where Is God in the Offense?
God sees every offense, God sends every offense, and God will judge every offense. Finally, those who are mindful of God go one step further: they trust that God himself can satisfy them in the midst of offense. Of all the refuges we can run to when offenses come — bitterness, revenge, fantasy, distraction, pleasure, self-justification — only one can fill us with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). Only one can call us back from darkness (1 Peter 2:9). Only one cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). God.
If we repay offense for offense, we will have our reward. But if we learn to overlook offenses, we will lean into fellowship with “the Shepherd and Overseer of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25). We will hear his whispers of “Well done” here and now. We will find that God is able to invade our tunnel vision, enthrall us with his beauty and worth, and free us to overlook the offense.
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