Choose Not to Be Offended
One More Year of Choices
By Barbara Dahlgren
In our last blog we talked about not offending others. However, the Bible is a two-edged sword and also tells us not to get offended. Being offensive and being offended both focus on self, not others. Unfortunately, our society teaches us to be self-oriented, self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-righteous. Offensive people are overly concerned about what they think. Offended people are overly concerned about how they feel. Christians should guard against both: offending others and being offended.
Being offended can be every bit as wrong as offending others. (Psalm 119:165) Each day is filled with opportunities to get offended. Some of us are so hyper-sensitive, we are an offense waiting to happen. Someone hurt our feelings. Someone made us angry, sad, disappointed, annoyed, or upset. We think someone intentionally slighted, mistreated, insulted, or snubbed us.
We take everything personally: she didn’t smile at me; he ignored me; she forgot my name; no one sent me a get well card; they didn’t ask my opinion; I wasn’t invited; I didn’t like what she said; I didn’t like how she said it; they didn’t appreciate my idea; they thanked everyone but me. I, my, me, me, me! Wah, wah, wah! When will we grow up and learn that the world doesn’t revolve around us?
Offenses will come. (Matthew 18:7) People are sometimes careless, tactless, blunt, hateful, and mean-spirited. However, the majority of us have more occasion to get ticked over the little things. It’s the pebble in our shoe that irritates, not the boulder in the road we know we have to go around. Sometimes people let the big things go and get bent out of shape over small, minor details.
Consider this… Being offended can be like planting a poisonous seed in our lives, one that can grow into bitterness if left unchecked. The devil uses offenses to divide and conquer. Offenses can destroy marriages, friendships, and churches. Offenses can keep us from having a positive relationship with others, including Jesus Christ. When we get offended, our spiritual maturity is revealed.
Although offenses are inevitable, being offended is a choice. We cannot change or control what others say or do, but we can control how we respond. The Bible tells us not be overly sensitive. “Do not take to heart everything people say” because you have more than likely done the same thing yourself. (Ecclesiastes 7:21-22) We can’t let irritants and annoyances drive wedges between us and others. It hinders our relationship, not only with others, but with Jesus Christ. We are told to “bear with one another” and forgive. (Colossians 3:13) Christ forgives us, and we are to forgive others.
Ultimately, we need to bring our hurts to the foot of the cross. Let Christ soothe and comfort us. Let Christ give us a proper perspective. Let Christ love the hurt away.
Suggestions for practicing this choice…
If you feel an offense coming on, stay cool, calm, and collected. Keep your mouth shut. A man of understanding holds his peace. (Proverbs 11:12)
Don’t be a brooder and continually agonize over what offended you. This plays havoc with your mind and causes you to assume motives, jump to conclusions, and think only about yourself. Get your focus off yourself and on to Jesus. Study His Word and try to apply it to your life, not the lives of others.
Ask yourself what this offense reveals about your heart? Are you wanting honor, approval, or recognition? Are you insecure? What are you desiring or craving that you feel you aren’t getting? Are you upset with others because they did not fulfill your expectations? Remember…these are your problems, not theirs. Perhaps you should ask God to fulfill these longings or take them away if they are unreasonable. Look to God, not other people.
Everyone makes mistakes, even you. Paul said he struggled with trying to do what was good and right. (Romans 7:18-19) Believe the best of others. Don’t take everything personally. Don’t impute motives. Maybe the comment wasn’t meant the way it sounded. Maybe they forgot your appointment. Maybe they had concerns or worries about health or family problems. Maybe they just found out the dog died. Why not give people the benefit of the doubt?
Resist the temptation to point out every time you feel hurt over something minor a friend or loved one says or does. People say, “I know you would want me to tell you that you hurt my feelings when you…” Hmmm??? Maybe not! They fret and fume over some little thing that was inadvertently said and then dump it on someone else. They feel better by trying to make someone else feel guilty. Wouldn’t it be better to just overlook it and not make a big deal? Proverbs 19:11 says to overlook offenses. Isn’t it better to think… well, I’m sure I took what was said the wrong way? Isn’t it better to think about all the positive things this person has done for you in the past? Don’t let Satan use offenses as wedges to come between you and others. Maybe it’s better to try not to take offense when no offense was intended.