“And anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.”
Perhaps you are like me and have experienced some circumstances and situations in life where you have found yourself asking tons of questions, feeling confused and hurt. In such situations, it is very easy to fall into the temptation to take offense. I have been facing just such a choice; maybe my processing my way through this just might be beneficial to someone else.
Most of us have been there at one time of another and if you are following current events, you will see it all over social media and the news. All it takes for offense to flourish in our culture today is a difference of opinion on some topic. There are many other causes of offense as well so for clarification, let’s get a starting definition. From Miriam Webster Online Dictionary we find offense is defined as:
“something that causes a person to be hurt, angry, or upset”
“something that is wrong or improper”
“a criminal act”
“an act of stumbling”
“an act of sin; stumbling block”
“something that outrages the moral of physical senses”
Offense can come by means of something as simple as a few careless words to a great and terrible tragedy. Recently I was reminded of the verse at the top when Jesus said “and anyone who is not offended because of Me is blessed.” In fact, it has come up several times. For this reason, I began to try to look at reasons that we become offended. Here are a few I have come up with:
- unkind words
- unmet needs
- disappointments-whether circumstances, people or things
- abuse, acts of violence, crime
- people who disagree with you on a specific topic
- opposing view on something you feel strongly about
Basically, we become offended most often by unmet expectations and when something does not fit within our thinking of what is “normal” or fit within our worldview. Our worldview is our conception of the world we live in. The question I had to ask next was how can I choose not to be offended in the situation I’m facing. Rather than blame someone or blame God, do I have the courage to look inside myself and ask why the situation gets under my skin? Why does this upset me? After much consideration, behind the hurt and disappointment I found unmet expectations. You see, I had put this person/relationship in a box. The truth is people are like multifaceted jewels and they are ever changing; ever growing. No matter how well we know someone we don’t know everything about them; we don’t know everything they are going through! We only have a perception of who we think they are.
With all this in mind, I begin to process the potential offense. Father, help me to understand this situation… Is there anything to really be offended about? Would addressing this be helpful or hurtful to the situation? I had an expectation, help me see whether or not it was realistic. I experienced a perceived loss or hurt; the ‘offender” may or may not have a clue as to my pain/loss! I have to ask what is in me that causes me to see this as an offense? Is it pride? Insecurity? Why does this create such strong feelings in me? Do I think everyone has to think like me; believe the same things I do? Realizing of course, crimes and physical abuse would be handled much differently and potentially outside intervention.
For the most part, I am realizing that taking offense is often times tied to some form of insecurity and by default connected to pride in some way. Perhaps it is failure to know our true value given to us by our heavenly Creator and through our relationship with Jesus Christ. For after all, He tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made; worth more than many sparrows; created just a little below the angels; and that we are kings and priests in His kingdom. Yet most of us do not begin to understand how beloved we are.
Scriptures like “be quick to listen, slow to speak and anger, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.“ (James 1:19-20); Proverbs 14:29 “A patient person shows great understanding, but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness”; and Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” can be helpful in our quest to be un-offendable.
Ephesians 6: 11-13 tells us:
” Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.”
Ephesians 4:30-32 cautions us:
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away anger; but a harsh word stirs up wrath”
Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”
Can we truly conquer this thing called offense? Absolutely! I believe by learning our true worth and value (not thinking less or more than we ought about ourselves); accepting that people are different and have the freedom to believe as they want even if it is different than our belief; and realizing when we have unrealistic or unvoiced expectations will take us a long way toward this goal. We will also benefit from the realization of the many times we have benefitted from being shown mercy and grace by others and by God Himself. Lastly, we will be forgiven as we forgive others. I don’t know about you but I want to be forgiven; I need to be forgiven! Preaching the Word to myself!
Grace and Peace to you, In the Mighty name of Jesus!