Do you struggle with easily being offended?

Is it ever OK for a believer to be offended, or is it sin?

We often hear someone say (or we have said ourselves), “You have offended me” or “I was so offended by what you said or did”. Do we mean that our feelings were hurt or is this just a *Christian* cover for anger? Is being offended in God’s plan for us? Hmmm, let’s look at a few things.

Webster’s gives some of these definitions for offended:

“to cause to feel vexation or resentment usually by violation of what is proper or fitting”, “to cause pain to”.

Are we feeling vexation or resentment and calling it “being offended” thinking that justifies our sin?

Thoughts on being offended

I have been in churches where everyone was what I called an *offense waiting to happen*. You had to walk on eggshells and still someone would be offended by what you said or didn’t say, or how you said it without being all touchy-feely, or by what you did or didn’t do.

  • A pastor was called unfriendly and therefore unloving because he didn’t always say hello to certain people on Sunday morning.
  • Hearts were so self-focused that no one was able to see beyond their own selfish lives to the possible needs of another.
  • Every action or word was not looked upon with love and compassion toward other people, but as if it were intentionally directed at ME.

Is this where God wants us to be??

Are we to be making assumptions about other people’s spirituality based on our own selfish focus? Are we to be quick to anger, quick to take up resentment, quick to take account of a wrong suffered, quick to believe the worst about one another, quick to hold onto hurts?

We look at our children and sibling rivalry and shake our heads in exasperation at their sinful and self-centered hearts. Where in the world do these attitudes come from, we ask ourselves.

  • “Your dress touched my dress!!”
  • “You are on my side of the couch!”
  • “Mom, he’s looking at me!!”

Are they seeing in US the attitude of being quickly offended?

  • “Pastor, she’s doing such and such and I’m offended!”
  • “Did you hear what so and so said? I can’t believe it and I am just so offended!”
  • “How could a true believer not see how much I am offended by such and such?”

In years past I was one of those “walk on eggshells around THAT one” type of person. I believed the worst about others and was prepared to defend myself to the death assuming that others were ready to stick a knife in MY back! And this was when I was a believer! But God, in His mercy, has shown me a deeper understanding of His love and mercy and grace. He has taught me a little bit (or rather I have learned a little bit) about assuming the best until I am PROVED wrong. I have seen first-hand what God means when He requires us to turn the other cheek.

And you know what? MY life is much happier and more pleasant when I focus on others with love.

I have greater joy and freedom to love others because I don’t feel like I HAVE to fight for #1 (as the world tells us)…that’s God’s job!

  • My job is to be willing to be poured out as a drink offering for the sake of others and the glory and honor of the One who bought my life.
  • My job is to be willing to live a life of sacrificial, unsung servanthood to those He came to save.
  • My job is to see that “He must increase, I must decrease.” OUCH!!

How often am I looking for that recognition that *I* am so wonderful! Thinking, ‘Boy! didn’t God get a great deal when He chose me!’ Convincing myself that I and I alone have the corner on the truth market and everyone else is barely keeping their heads above water! Rationalizing my sin as *weaknesses* that others will have to put up with while pointing out every speck in the eyes of my fellow brethren. Knowing clearly how others are “so legalistic” in their convictions or “being sucked into the deception of the enemy” in the freedoms they enjoy while at the same time believing that I (and I alone again) am living the balance that God reveals to us.

I’m often asking myself these questions:

  • Am I extending to others the grace the Lord extends to me?
  • Am I willing to be misunderstood as I seek to understand others more fully?
  • Am I willing to drop a contentious point without “getting the last word in”?
  • Am I trusting the sanctifying work of the Lord in the lives of other believers even if they seem to be going in a direction very different from my own?
  • Am I working to have the “goal of my instruction” be love?
  • Am I realizing that “knowledge puffs up but love builds up” and am I therefore pursuing love above all else?
  • Am I working to believe the best about others and to think that major differences we seem to have are probably misunderstandings that can be put to right with loving, open and humble communication? (this is different from trying to persuade that *I* am right, but to seek unity of spirit)
  • Am I centering my speech on the love and grace of the Lord rather than on me?

Hard questions for me to ask myself, but necessary if I am to work to keep a divisive and critical spirit far from my heart. How about you? Are these areas that God may be touching your heart about? May we all seek to follow Him more completely that people will see less and less of US and more and more of Him. This is the same Lord who said from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

This thought sends me to my knees in tears; humbled and awed.

Part 2 On Being Offended

Thoughts on being offended

All Scripture quotations are taken from the NASB.
Unless otherwise indicated, photos from pixaby.com

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