In His discourse with the disciples on the signs of His second coming and of the end of the age, Jesus made some instructive statements with regard to offence: ‘And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.’ Mt.24:10-12.

A cursory examination of this text reveals a progression from offence through betrayal to hatred. An offended person is hurt, he loses trust in the offender and will do all he can to protect himself from further hurt. Because his heart is bitter, should he be called upon to testify about the offender, he will likely deny that there is anything good in him. If this bitterness is not uprooted, it turns to hatred, especially if the offence is perceived to be continuous.

The process does not end there. The offended person has become exposed. He is s ready target of the deceitful words of anyone the devil may use to take advantage of the conflict. A prophecy is a pronouncement; it may be true or false. An offended person is willing to hear and believe false prophecy about his offender because his heart is already seared. Even if he is in denial, he may suffer depression, questioning God’s and the offender’s love for him. He may even become ‘lawless’, engaging hateful thoughts, words and actions in defiance of God’s word. You must have heard it postulated that bullies are people who are secretly hurting from some kind of abuse.

Jesus commands that His follower love God, himself and his neighbour Mk.12:30-31. This is the code by which we must live, for it is God’s will. An offended person has allowed hatred to take root in his heart; he can neither love God, himself or others. Love and hate cannot coexist.

The final stage of offence is that the heart grows cold toward God and man, in opposition to God’s will.

Un-forgiveness is ultimately a bait of Satan to oppose God, to lure His children into disobedience. Knowing this, we should prefer the route of not taking offence, drawing on God’s grace, His enablement to forgive.

Let us examine some effects of un-forgiveness, what it really does. Knowledge empowers!