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But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.
(Isaiah 54:17 AMP)
For some of us, it doesn't take much to get offended, does it? When we're talking to someone and suddenly it seems they're attacking us, walls go up and we get defensive. Right? Everybody does it. It's a natural response to any attack.

On the surface, that kind of response seems harmless—and even justifiable. After all, we think, if we don't defend ourselves, who will? But when we get defensive, we're probably more destructive than the guy who attacks us.

Wait a minute, you might be thinking, if someone verbally attacks me and I try to defend myself, how can I possibly be the one causing harm—what about the other guy?

We can't do anything about the other guy. We can, however, do something about our own responses. Understanding the wrong ways can help us improve in the right ways.

There are three common patterns that surface in our conversations, patterns that distort communication and cause relationships to end up on the rocks. Let's look at four dangers linked to getting defensive, as well as steps from God's Word we can take to avoid these dangers.

Your Best Defense Is No Offense
Defending yourself may be the normal response to any attack, but don't be fooled. Taking a defensive stand against someone isn't right; nor is it your best defense. In fact, it's downright dangerous and contrary to God's Word.

Another thing about getting defensive: You can always justify it. "But did you hear what she said to me? And it was a lie to boot! She had no reason to say that, and I was so nice to her last week. I have every right to be offended, bless God!"

How do we get out of this dangerous and deceptive tendency? The answer is in Ephesians 1:3, 5-6: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ... Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved."

Here's the acceptance we long for—the love we were created for. He has accepted us! Friend, men's offenses and rejection mean absolutely nothing in the face of our eternal and unconditional acceptance in Jesus. No matter what we have or haven't done, we are forever accepted in Jesus when we accept Him and make Him our Lord.

Still, it's so easy to slip into our flesh sometimes and get defensive when we think someone is attacking us, especially when we're right. But that's when it helps to realize we're playing into the devil's hands by opening the door to division—the second danger to avoid.

Divide and... You'll Be Conquered
If no one ever got offended, we would never have broken relationships—no splits, no divisions, especially in the body of Christ. Jesus said a house divided against itself will not stand (Matt. 12:25). It's no surprise, then, that the devil's primary strategy is to keep us divided—divided in our marriages, our friendships, and our churches. If he can divide, then he can conquer.

To avoid division, we have to get a clear picture that divided relationships, on any level, are an abomination to God. We are well out of His will when we're a part of division. And being out of His will closes the door to His protection and provision for us.

However, there are times when God says we are to separate from a relationship, and I want us to look at a particular one. Romans 16:17 says, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." God says to avoid people—even Christian people—who cause division. That may sound tough coming from the God of love, but here's why. Verse 18 says, "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly...."

Still, we don't have to get offended when people say something to us that could cause division. Amos 3:3 asks the question, "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" There's no way we can walk together and accomplish God's purposes unless we're in agreement. So if we'll just take time to ask the Holy Spirit, He will tell us what we can do to maintain agreement and avoid division. Once we really understand that divided relationships are not of God, we'll never allow ourselves to get offended or defensive, even if someone does us wrong.

He Who Has Ears to Hear...
Just as God uses people to minister to us, He also uses people to correct us. Here's where we find the third danger of defensiveness—becoming unteachable.

When we get offended and raise our walls in defense, those walls can block out the very words we need to hear, such as words of correction God may be speaking through someone. They're words that benefit us by causing us to change and grow. But if we're quick to be defensive, we certainly won't want to hear a person point out something wrong in us. If we continue to block out correction, errors in our lives will go unchanged and we won't grow. That's how we become unteachable.

I came across a study which concluded that 95 percent of all criticisms people make have some basis in fact. I believe we can conclude that as long as we have hearts that hear, we can benefit from almost any criticism. Realizing this benefit can change our attitude about threatening situations and help us not be defensive.

Go Big "D"
So, are you wondering where God is in our offense-defense problems? Well, you may be surprised to find out that all too often He's not in the picture. Why? Because we reject His defense on our behalf, which is the fourth danger of the defender pattern. You see, God desires to be our vindicator and recompense. He stands ready to defend us, but when we allow ourselves to be offended, we close Him out of the picture. We take matters into our own hands instead of leaving them in His, and we keep Him from being our defender.

God promises "every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn" (Isa. 54:17). It's our heritage as His servants. But to receive this heritage, God requires that we let Him carry the ball. We must roll every attack and offense onto Him. Though it may seem to take awhile sometimes, God will always show us to be in the right—if we let Him.

As we give our offenses to God, we become less defensive and more effective in talking to each other. The better our communication, the better our relationships. And that's our goal: to build the kind of relationships that God can use to minister to us and through us.

Copyright © CFAITH All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Mac Hammond
Web site: Mac Hammond
 
Mac Hammond is senior pastor of Living Word Christian Center, a large and growing church in Brooklyn Park (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota. He is the host of the Winner’s Way broadcast and author of several internationally distributed books. Mac is broadly acclaimed for his ability to apply the principles of the Bible to practical situations and the challenges of daily living.
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