I’ve had several opportunities to be offended lately. I hate to pass up an opportunity, you know. But when it comes to offense, I really should. That can be really hard, after all when opportunity knocks…
Say someone says something about you that just isn’t true. Or maybe it is true, but it’s not that flattering. That’s a prime time to take up offense. What about when someone does something to you they should not have done? Awesome opportunity, I say. And what about those times when someone doesn’t do something they should have done. Boy howdy! I can feel my blood pressure rising even now. I could go on and on talking about the ways we can feel justified in taking up offense.
It’s amazing how quickly we can put up our dukes at even the slightest provocation.
Does this sound familiar? When an offense comes, my blood pressure starts to rise. I get all puffed up. I begin fighting the words that want to spill out of my mouth in retaliation. How dare they say or do that to me! I want to spew out reminders of their failings and their flaws. I want to set the record straight. After all, who do they really think they are? Mr. or Mrs. Perfect?
Offense is my problem, though, not theirs. When I find my security and identity in Christ, then I should be able to hold those feelings of offense in check. When my self-worth does not depend on what someone does or says to me, then it is easier to handle those things when they do happen.
What to do, what to do…
Will our offended response make our lives any better? What about the lives of those around us? Will our offended behavior bless others?
I think the mature thing to do is stop and consider some things. Is the offender someone whose opinion we value or should value? If it is, there might just be some truth to what they are telling us. Often our offense prevents us from hearing any truth a person may be trying to share. Can we offer grace instead of offense? Does this person ultimately have our best interests in mind? Or is the offender a total stranger whose investment in our lives and our success negligible? In which case… can’t we just let it go?
Most of the time, we are too busy defending our own honor during these situations to consider the person who has offended us.
We forget the times that we offended another person, and would have enjoyed some grace in a situation.
But let’s say there is not even a shred of truth to what they say, or nothing admirable about what they’ve done. Should that even matter?
There were many things said about Jesus on the day He was crucified. Many of those things were offensive. The things done to Jesus were even more offensive. And yet, at no time did He take up the offense. At no time did He allow the offenses to derail His ultimate mission. For not one instant did Jesus let those things said or done overshadow who He was and what He was about.
Christ is our example. As believers, our identity is wrapped up in who He is and not who we are… even in the face of offense.
It is the self that takes up the offense. But as believers we are to die to self, and in doing so… well, it’s hard to offend a dead person. Offense serves to protect our pride. Offense wants to guard this puffed up version of ourselves. But here’s the thing, as followers of Christ, our mission is not to raise up or protect our image or persona, our aim is to make Jesus famous. Offense makes it about us.
In the end, there are just going to be those people who will find it acceptable to offend. It is up to us to decide if we allow it to cause us to sin. Here’s what Matthew 18:7 says will happen to those who cause others to stumble:
“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”
Repeat offenders will have their day. “Woe” to them. So there’s a little satisfaction for you, for the next time an offender strikes! Next time… leave the offense on the table.