In the Bible we read about Martha who complained about her sister to Jesus. Mary could have easily gotten offended and did something about it. However, we hear of nothing that Mary did to defend herself. She merely went on sitting at Jesus’ feet. In fact, Jesus Himself came to her defense. She had to do nothing about it.
How easily and often do you get offended? Have you ever thought about this? Do you feel the need to defend yourself every time you think someone says something you have to feel offended by? Do you feel that people have to walk on egg shells around you hoping not to offend you? For some of us, offence comes easily and we end up hurting people around us. So what causes us to get offended?
One reason is unrealised expectations. As Christians, we are to put our trust in God. Some of us put more of our trust in people and so get offended easily. When we trust in God, we are able to see that no man is perfect but that God can still bring good out of any situation. This helps us to be peaceful instead of taking offence.
Pride also causes us to be easily offended. The Bible tells us to die to self. Yet many of us Christians today don’t apply that in our lives. If we are dead to self, we cannot be offended. We live in a “I’ and “Me” world. The world tells us to watch out for ourselves first and speak out if someone says something that we don’t agree with. But this is not how we are told to live according to the scriptures. Pride makes us watch out for ourselves and easily get offended. But humbleness helps us to put others before us. I am not saying that we have to be a pushover. But there is a right and wrong way to deal with everything. And the right way is to always go to God first.
Another reason for our offence is a perspective in security that is wrong. All of us yearn to feel secured and safe. We long for others to accept us and the way we perform (i.e. how we speak, what we do, the way we dress etc). When we rely on our performance to feel secured, then we may feel threatened when someone expresses something negative about us. When our feelings of security come from ourselves or our performances, we may tend to take offence even at the little things. So, we need to be careful about not letting our feelings of security be affected by our performance. We need to know who we are and what we do for Christ and others. We need not let the opinions of others to let us get offended and bring us down. My husband and I have faced this many times in our ministry. We lead the youth ministry at our Church and many times we have heard negative comments about who we are and how we lead our ministry. These comments have even sometimes come from people who we thought were close to us. It is so easy to get offended at these words and just give up. But my husband and I know that God is the one who has put us here and we know we are at the right place at the right time. So, we choose not to get offended each time. We choose to keep going with what we’re doing. We are not here to please people but to please God. Our security is not influenced by our performance or the comments we receive. Our security is influenced by a higher calling.
Now, what can we do when offences come our way? First, we are to cover these offences. In Proverbs 10:12 we read “Hatred sirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs”. If someone has done something wrong to you, it might be tempting to talk about what they have done with others. We might want to expose their sins to others. But the Bible tells us to cover their sins. No man is perfect. Everyone has their flaws. So we have no right to expose someone else’s faults to others. The Bible clearly warns us against this.
The next thing to do is to forgive. Forgiveness is really powerful. People everywhere struggle with forgiveness. The world tells us it is ok to not forgive if someone has wronged us. But Christ teaches us to forgive. While He was on the cross, He forgave the people that were executing Him. And this is the way we are to live. Two weeks ago, a young pastor lost his young pregnant wife in a violent home invasion. The burglar raped and killed his wife before taking off. They finally arrested the man responsible for killing his wife. The words of this pastor really amazed me. He said “Though everything inside of me wants to be angry, I choose the route of forgiveness, grace and hope.” If this young pastor can forgive the man who raped and murdered his best friend, what excuse do we have to not forgive the people that may have offended us? There is power in forgiveness. Satan does not want us to forgive. He wants us to live in bitterness because he knows what that does to us. But Christ wants us to forgive. Forgiveness brings freedom to us. It helps God to be able to use us to our full capacity.
So, ladies, if you are harbouring any bitter feelings in your heart today, CHOOSE forgiveness instead. CHOOSE to be free. CHOOSE to be used completely by God. We can also pray when we feel offended. Ask God to help you to not feel offended when someone has hurt you. God will help those who genuinely pray for this. Feeling offended only really hurts us the most in the end. People that have hurt us might move on while we sit in the same spot feeling offended and bitter. It only stops our own lives from going where it is supposed to go. So, today, CHOOSE not to be offended. I use the word “choose” because it is a decision on your part. It is only you who can CHOOSE to make that decision. We can learn from Mary, Jesus and that young pastor. Holding on to offence can be negatively powerful in our lives. But forgiveness is even more powerful