"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”
This idea of living unoffended seems to be a theme recently. I have the privilege of doing life with some amazing women and this idea of refusing to be offended keeps coming to the surface in our conversations and has become a character trait we desire to be realized in our lives. You might be asking “why?” The answer in a nut shell is peace. That strong tangible presence of peace in our personal lives and in our relational interactions. Is it even possible? The answer, yes. But not in our own strength. We need the Lord’s help to truly see victory in this area.
To unpack this idea of offense here is a definition: resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. Synonyms: upset, insulted, hurt, wounded, angry, resentful, exasperated, irritated, huffy. I think we can all agree that we’ve been at least one if not all of those at one time or another.
So what is the result of being offended?
The result of being offended starts small, like a simmering pot. But the longer the pot simmers and the offense is allowed to develop low-lying anger then turns into unforgiveness, which then is compounded into bitterness and resentment. Then with these strongholds securely in place, emotional walls are erected and there begin the divisions between us. We become on- edge, defensive, and the environment to develop authentic relationships becomes challenged, to put it lightly.
In Ephesians 6:12 Paul says that our battles and “struggles are not against flesh and blood but against the unseen forces of evil”. There is an enemy and he is referred to as a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Unforgiveness is a strategic design craftily implemented by our enemy to outwit us, to cripple our effectiveness in prayer and our power to stand against him victoriously. He desires to use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. He will try to ensure that your heart is hardened with anger and bitterness, shackled through unforgiveness. One way or another, he’s out to steal your peace. And a life without peace is a life that is unprotected, and unable to move forward.
Peace isn’t the absence to chaos or trouble, but rather an overall, deeply entrenched sense of harmony, health, and wholeness in the midst of trouble. In fact, true peace is best detected and measured against the backdrop of the storms in our lives. When instability abounds, yet you remain steadfast; when disappointment and confusion are near, yet you’re capable of walking with Spirit infused confidence, stability and steadiness. This is a peace beyond comprehension!
Only God’s peace can dig in deep enough to offer the kind of anchoring, grounding and security we need, keeping us from being knocked over and being undone by a formidable enemy. If you’re wondering how to get a hold of this peace, here is the key. First, you must choose to cultivate and activate it in your life. Isaiah 26:3-4 says “The mind He keeps in perfect peace is the one that’s steadfast on Him, because it trusts in Him. Since the Lord God is an everlasting rock we can trust Him forever.”
When our mind is squared on Him, the peace of God expands within us. It stabilizes our runaway emotions, centers our minds, guides our footsteps and even overflows into our relationships with others. Thankfulness and gratitude to God activates peace in our lives.
So whenever fear and anxious thoughts begin to creep in, turn your attention to the Lord. Pray and trust Him. Be grateful. And then watch the peace of God, which you cannot even begin to explain swell in your heart and mind.
I’m not sure how this Blackberry Balsamic Chicken fits into all of these thoughts. But here is one idea. Maybe gather a group of friends over this meal and begin a conversation on what it might look like to live unoffended or activating the peace of God in your life “which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4:7).-s
Blackberry Balsamic Chicken
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
For the Blackberry Balsamic Glaze
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 cup blackberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, mustard, honey, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer to a resealable plastic bag. Place the chicken inside the bag and coat evenly with the marinade. Seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for an hour.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and stir in the garlic and shallots until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the blackberries, balsamic vinegar, and honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes until sauce thickens and reduces slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a cast iron grill pan to medium-high and lightly oil when hot. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the bag and its remaining contents. Pat the chicken dry. Cook the chicken on the grill pan until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165 degrees F., approximately 7-8 minutes on each side. To serve arrange grilled chicken on a platter and drizzle with the blackberry balsamic glaze. Serves 4