“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.“ – Proverbs 12:15.
What if we sat down with a friend or relative and asked them one question. But, before you posed the question you make one stipulation. You want them to be completely honest with you. With that said, you ask them, ”do I offend you in any way?” Then you brace yourself for what you may hear next. The friend pauses, reflecting on the question for a few seconds. And then the answer: “Well, since you asked, let me think: I would have to say your appearance, politics, bad habits, and your idea of what constitutes good music have all offended me at one time or another.”
You are surprised the list is not even longer. It doesn’t take a lot to offend people. Americans have cornered the offended market. It has become our default setting. And what’s more we are multi taskers, typically balancing more than one offense at any given time. Being offended is an all skate because just about everybody will discover a provocation somewhere and be offended, and that includes our relationships.
Some of you could give examples of where it would be easy to be offended. Some people have had real harm done to them. There is a time to express being hurt or troubled by something. But if we get offended by every little thing, how will we ever interact with others, much less reach the world? If anyone had reason to be offended, it’s Jesus.
We serve a God who chose to come in the lowliest form and share meals with the very people society rejected. Rather than being offended by their lives, he chose to love people as they were—broken, imperfect and in need of the Father’s unconditional love.
Our goal is to stop being so easily offended. A Christian who is not offended is a person who wants grace for him or herself and wants to extend that grace to others. That means we are always focused on reconciliation. Now that does not mean that nothing should bother us, convict us to action, or require confrontation? Of course not. But our goal in any situation is seeking to find avenues of reconciliation. To bring peace, healing, and compassion to the world around us. Our job is simple: Love God and love others.
Many of us spend our lives trying to make progress in this area. Choosing to not be offended will make our life better. Giving up our perceived right to hold an offense will make us happier and healthier and ultimately improve our relationships.
- Do you think it is possible to work so hard at relationships that you can prevent offending others?
- How do you deal with the tension created when you offend others.
- Should we forgive those who hurt or offend us?
- What can we do this week to be less easily offended?