Friday, August 8, 2008

Final Bullet Points on Being Easily Offended - Finally!

Okay, I now know that I don't post often enough to do anything in a series.  I started doing some bullet points on being easily offended, first HERE, then HERE, and finally HERE.  Now it's been so long that I'm sure no one really cares, but I feel the need to at least finish my thoughts.  If you'll remember, this topic tumbled around in my brain after a conversation with someone who has a friend who seems to be easily offended.

Let's start off with somewhat of a companion subject:  People with chips on their shoulders.  We all know what that means; a person has some sensitive issue or circumstance that is an instant sore point so it causes them to feel angry (0ffended) when that issue/circumstance comes up or someone unknowingly says the wrong thing.  They seem to just be waiting for someone (in his/her ignorance of said issue) to say or do the wrong thing so that they can zing them with their sarcastic or stinging barb or they will instead not say anything, but carry that hurt/offense with them.  Why are they so sensitive about the issue in the first place?  I think many times it because that issue hasn't been settled between them and God. 

Listen, if someone is talking with you and they have no past knowledge of an issue or circumstance that you carry around, you need to grow up and show grace.  That doesn't mean that you can't in love state that the comment or situation was difficult for you because of this or that, but it does mean that you begin to let people off the hook and to show them grace, respect and love. 

Everyone in the world is NOT responsible to know your issue(s).  Don't take everything so personally.  IT ISN'T ALL ABOUT YOU!  And truthfully, most people are not out to do or say things that they think will hurt you; they honestly don't know that you are sensitive about that issue and would feel terrible if they knew they were saying/doing something hurtful to you.   

Okay, back to bullet points.  Last post, I said we have two choices: First, we can choose to hold on to our hurt (offended) feelings (our human nature response talked about in the last post), or secondly (and preferably) we can offer those feelings up to Jesus.  Today, we'll look at the second choice - letting people off the hook and surrendering our hurt to Jesus.
  • I think Jesus is calling us to grow up in our knowledge of, and obedience to, Him. 
  • When we choose to hold and cherish our hurt, we are choosing to not hold and cherish Him.  That may sound harsh, but it is truth.  
  • Jesus had lots of things happen that could have offended him: his friends fell asleep, Peter denied him, Judas betrayed him, his family didn’t understand him, and people lied about him and most assuredly talked behind his back.  Did He hold on to those things, or did He hold on to His father?  I hope you know the answer to that; He did the will of His father which was to forgive them, and He trusted that God would have the final say.
  • When someone does something that offends you, don’t think about what they’ve done to you, think about what they’ve just done to themselves. God is our avenger; he is in control. Why do we give that control to other people?  We can let them off the hook, and in the process free ourselves from the offending person/situation trusting that God will have the final word, even if we don't see it this side of heaven.
  • Sometimes we’re offended because we’ve given something to someone and when they don’t give or do back to us, we're offended.  That means we were giving/serving selfishly in the first place. When we do something for someone, we need to do it as unto the Lord knowing that our reward will come from Him.  
  • Instead of being offended, we need to be more concerned with whether we’ve offended God or other people. 
  • When we allow ourselves to be easily offended, we’re just following our feelings and not the word of God.
  • We have to just make a decision that we are not going to be easily offended. This is a central mark of spiritual maturity. 
  • We don't have to be easily offended, living in strife, anger, and resentment.  We can choose to live in peace.  When stated that way, it seems like an easy choice, doesn't it?
I have lived through some very hurtful situations, as I know all of you have.  I have wasted many hours being hurt or offended because I choose to keep my eyes on myself, wrongly thinking it is all about me.  And.....I know there will be situations in the future (probably as early as tomorrow morning) when I will be faced again with the choice to be hold on to a hurt or offense or to let it roll off of my shoulders onto the shoulders of Christ.  He alone can sympathize with my hurt, carry my hurt, avenge my hurt, and replace my hurt with His peace and grace.  And once I have grown in grace, He is calling and commanding me to extend that grace to others.  

I invite you to join me in a quest to grow up into the people God desires us to be. It will be difficult at times, but the end result is so worth it. Remember, we are all on this journey together, and we need to support one another as we travel. Having an easily offended spirit hinders and cripples us in our spiritual journey and keeps us from being in close relationship with others.

If you have a friend who seems to be easily offended, you may need to (in love and after much prayer) approach your friend with your concern in all gentleness. If you truly love your friend, you desire the best for him/her, and helping them grow in this area will be helping them to grow in the Lord. But I caution you, don't do this unless you first ask God to search your heart and you are willing to look at any planks in your own eye before attempting to share your concern over the speck in your brother or sister's eye.

I encourage you to read Ephesians 4 which talks about unity and maturity in the body of Christ, telling us how we should live.  Good stuff.  Hard stuff.  Let's all work at growing up!


Jason Hicks said...

Thank you for an amazing series. This topic is way to prevalent in the church. As a couple who is currently working through this issue with a friend who is easily offended, you have provided some great tools and insight to pray over and consider should this friend ever want to meet face to face. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Jon Nichols said...

Thanks, again Gena, for sharing these honest, loving, helpful thoughts! Good stuff!