So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.” – Luke 17:3-4.
It is hard to finish a sentence these days without offending someone. And it often has nothing to do with what is being said. People today are looking for a reason to be offended. Being offended is an all skate because just about everybody will discover a provocation somewhere and be offended.
Consider this scenario: You sit down with a friend or relative and ask them one simple question. But, before you ask the question you make one stipulation. You ask them to be completely honest with you. With that said, you ask the question: ”do I offend you in any way?” Then you sit back with a hopeful smile and await the response. The friend/relative pauses, reflecting on the question for a few seconds. And then the answer: “Hhhmmmm…let me think…well, since you asked, I would have to say your appearance, politics, bad habits, your choice of music, putting pineapple on pizza, 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. We have all offended people at one time or another and been offended in return. But here is the problem: 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 Savior 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.
As Christians, it is not about the person offending us, it is about how we choose to respond. When Jesus calls us to love our enemies, we might wonder what that really means in practice. Surely, we’re not going to get all warm and fuzzy when we think about those who have hurt or offended us. But that is exactly the kind of robust, challenging love envisioned by Jesus, a love that is more about action than about feelings. Making this choice to love and not be offended, however, is difficult.
Ask yourself these questions: What would happen if you didn’t allow yourself to go there? What if you stopped and said – “Why am I getting mad about this…does this really warrant getting offended?” What would have happened if I didn’t allow myself to be offended?
If we want to be more like Jesus we need to stop being so easily offended, a believer who wants grace for him or herself and wants to extend that grace to others. That means we are always focused on forgiveness. 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.
- Do you think it is possible to work so hard at relationships that you can prevent offending others?
- Should we forgive those who hurt or offend us?
- What can we do this week to be less easily offended?