“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.” Proverbs 18:19 (ESV)

In 149 B.C., a Roman army laid siege to the mighty city of Carthage in the third and final Punic War. For three years, the nearly 80,000 strong Roman army laid siege to the almost half a million population of soldiers and civilians within the city. In the end the Roman army breached the 60-foot city walls and all but 50,000 were killed and the once dominant Carthaginian Empire was no more.

Strong cities and fortifications have been common throughout history and conquering those fortifications has always been extremely costly to both sides. In the same way, when we are offended we harden ourselves and try to find security and self-protection, like the fortifications of a strong city. Our vulnerable feelings can turn us into an impenetrable prison fortress cut off from others. Too often it seems our hearts become so hardened where we can no longer disagree with someone, but are instead offended by their words, opinions, and actions.

Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” It seems that ‘good sense’ is frequently lacking in today’s world, but thankfully God is our standard and not ourselves. God’s standards of grace, patience, and love (Exod. 34:6) leave little room for an offended heart. Only God can see into our hearts and discern our motives (Heb. 4:12) and we can trust Him to work in our hearts so that we do not become so “unyielding” and “quarrelsome”.

May today’s reading hopefully remind us that our ‘fruit’ should look different than that of the world (Gal. 5:22-26). As believers, we can be slow to anger and cover an offense in love (Prov. 17:9). May we pray that our easily offended hearts not be a “strong city” built up with pride, anger, and resentment. Following God’s standard we can become righteously unoffendable, trusting in Him to judge perfectly.

Further Study • Psalms 86:15 • Proverbs 14:2 • Luke 7:22-24 • James 1:19

by Eric Adams, Deacon Vice Chairman

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