Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't Get Offended!

The subject of being offended and being offensive has come up in my prayer time over and over and over lately so it's gotten me to praying, studying, forgiving, and apologizing a lot lately. In the last week alone I have been in situations where I've listened to others ranting about their offenses, I've watched people I love be seriously offended by me, and I've encountered serious moments where I had to choose whether to be offended or not, and too often I've chosen to be upset. I've had to make several phone calls, and pen a few emails to clear things up I've unintentionally done. . . so where's the key to the source of my problems?

Here's what I have in my aresenal that I keep referring to:

Mainstream Online Advice

  • Step1 Keep in mind that when a comment seems offensive that it may not be aimed specifically at you. It may be a casual comment and the person is unaware that you are taking it personally.
  • Step2 Consider the context that things are being said or done. Many times, you may have misunderstood and taken it wrongly.
  • Step3 Avoid being too sensitive as it is a sure way to be easily offended.
  • Step4 Tell yourself that maybe the person is having a bad day and does not realize how he came across. Don't judge and avoid jumping to conclusions.
  • Step5 Talk to the person cordially about how you feel. The person might not realize that she has offended you. Talking over the issues can help to resolve misunderstandings, hidden anger and frustration.
  • Step6 Think positive and stop brooding over the offense. Thinking too much often makes you jump to conclusions that are often times not based on fact.
  • Step7 Stay away from self-pity when offended. It can destroy your self esteem and make you miserable.
  • Step8 Pray for the ability to forgive and forget the offense if you have been truly offended.
  • Step9 Learn from your experience and be careful the next time you speak or do something. It may save a person who is overly sensitive a lot of grief.

A great devotional on the subject

Don't Get Offended!
A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. - Proverbs 19:11

Are you easily offended? If you are, you have plenty of company these days. Our society has made becoming offended a national pastime. It's almost as if we've made offense a virtue today. One example of this is the prevalence of "road rage." One driver gets offended with another, and what began as a minor altercation can escalate into a major conflict. But that's not God's way. The verse above tells us that the honorable thing for us to do in these situations is to overlook the offense. If you want to defuse a volatile situation, refuse to become offended. Yes, you may have been wronged. And your feelings might have been hurt. But if you are a believer, God Himself has promised to be your Vindicator, and He will deal with those who treat you unfairly. (Psalm 135:14) Your job is to handle situations like these His way, not the world's way. Psalm 119:165 AMP says, "Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble." If we are lovers and doers of God's Word, we will walk in peace and we will not be easily offended. When the apostle Paul is describing the God-kind of love that believers are to demonstrate, he says: "It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." (1 Corinthians 13:5) The next time you are tempted to take offense at something someone says to you, pray and ask the Lord, "Is there any truth to this, Lord? Do I need to make some changes here?" Then be honest with yourself and God, and let Him deal with you, if necessary.
Proverbs 18:19 says, "An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city." Is there someone in your life, like a family member, who gets offended easily, and whom you have to deal with on a regular basis? People like these can be difficult to get along with because when they take offense, they refuse to listen to reason or to yield to attempts to make amends. We may not always be able to avoid offending these people, but there are a couple of things we can do. We can pray for them, and we can refuse to become offended ourselves. The reason taking offense is displeasing to God is that it's destructive to relationships. It divides people and causes conflict. It can break up families, friendships, and even churches. It's one of Satan's most valuable weapons against God's kingdom, and as believers, we are to be aware of his tactics so that we won't become his victims. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Proverbs 17:9 AMP says, "He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separates even close friends." Every time we forgive an offense, we are preserving our relationships and slamming the door in the devil's face. Most of all, we are pleasing and glorifying the One Who deserves our very best!
Prayer: Lord, You know better than anyone how many opportunities to take offense I encounter each day. I ask that You give me the grace I need to resist becoming offended in these situations. Make me an example and an inspiration to others. Deal with me when I'm in the wrong and I need to make some changes. When I suffer hurt, heal and comfort me. Thank You that by Your grace, I shall walk in peace!

So I have to ask myself, how do we do it? I've worked so hard the last few years not to be so easily offendable, but I still worry so much about offending people. I beat myself up for days over every misspoken word, and every statement that came out all wrong.

Especially in this political election climate we're in, every word spoken or written seems to be truth to one group, and offensive speech to another.

If the Bible tells us not to, then surely it's possible. Surely the Holy Spirit gives us the tools and open doors to achieve it, but why is it so difficult? What more of my flesh needs to die in order to have peace in this area? Well, obviously all of it. . .

Any seasoned peace walkers out there? Got any advice for a walking brute? :)


April Spicer said...

Oh come on Gina. I don't know you THAT well but I find it hard to believe that you are a walking brute! Here is my only piece of advice: talk less. :) No, but seriously, when I start feeling like I'm making a ton of verbal errors or social errors and wish I would just keep my trap shut, it usually gets to a boiling point and I feel very convicted to just stop talking. Obviously not completely, but to really limit my thoughts and try to listen a lot more. That's my advice. But try not to be so hard on yourself and second guess everything. If people know you well and love you, then they aren't going to take something the wrong way that you were completely honest and well meaning about. As for how not to BE offended easily, it sounds like you have that one figured out. It's not a big issue for me so i wouldn't have been much help anyway. :) Enjoy your evening sister!

Mimi Martin said...

Our only goal is to be more and more Christlike. He had it down perfectly: He came in GRACE and TRUTH. He was all love. He was all truth. He could love the unlovely. He could call evil men evil - broods of vipers. When you get too critical of yourself, remember this: If Jesus's goal was never to offend, He would have died of natural causes.

We spend a lifetime trying to get our 'self' out of the equation and simply respond and speak as He would have us do. There are times that our words of truth will offend - but if spoken in love, then you just leave it in God's hands. If we still need to repent of selfish unlovely motives, then we should seek peace and forgiveness.

Life Lesson No. 999: When you get it all down perfectly and you're totally Christlike, then you get to stop taking all these earth-tests and go Home.

For now?? You're still here. I'm still here. Happy growing!