Should I be offended? It’s a question one of my kids would ask me from time to time. If I had understood completely what I understand now, I would not have needed to know the details of the particular situations. These details would not have mattered, I would have told him without hesitation, “No”.
But what of the details? Maybe the thing that happened was indeed offensive. Maybe my kid would have been completely justified in being offended. I think that is our problem these days. We justify ourselves, but find ourselves offended by others. Social media has become a hotbed of offended people. It is a platform for pontificating about the latest offenses perpetrated against us.
We operate in a world of offense every day, but I grew up in a time that gave people the benefit of the doubt. We chose to believe the better in someone unless and until they just insisted that we see them for the scoundrel they were. Were we naive? Maybe. But we were happier. We weren’t scouting out our next opportunity to be offended by someone.
Just today, I offended a lady. I was turning into a parking lot of a downtown restaurant and she was waiting to pull out onto the street. I did not have my turn signal on signaling my intent to turn into the restaurant. I know. I’m a horrible person. I’d tell you what she mouthed at me and then signaled to me with her hands, but this is a G-rated blog. I was amused that she was so instantly angered by my failure to signal. My actions had not put her at any risk. I suppose I slowed her progress by a few seconds, but by her reaction one would have thought I had pulled up next her, exited my car, and taken a sledge hammer to hers.
Ephesians, chapter four, tells us:
So what’s so wrong with being offended? Nothing, really, unless you are a believer in Christ. According to Galations 2:20, it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me. Essentially, I am dead… un-offendable. You cannot offend a dead person. Have you ever tried being un-offendable? It is a challenge in today’s society where offense is encouraged, even celebrated.
What does it mean to be un-offendable? It means you stop holding on to un-forgiveness, even for a moment. The Bible speaks often about forgiveness. It doesn’t ever say that the person who has offended us deserves our forgiveness. But it’s not about that. It’s about opening the door for the enemy to sneak in and begin messing around in our lives. (“Do not give the devil a foothold.” Offense and un-forgiveness give the devil a foothold in our lives.) He loves to come in and stir up our offenses and the un-forgiveness we hold on to. He pokes at them like we might poke at a fire to keep it going. It’s why we are told again and again and again to forgive others. Sure, forgiveness is good for the offender, but that’s not the real story about forgiveness. We are told to forgive because it shuts the door on the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. Offense, un-forgiveness, will burn us from the inside.
Forgiveness means letting go of your grip on the other person’s neck.
So how do you know if you have truly forgiven someone? How can you be sure you’ve let go of an offense if you have taken one up? Well, you can look at the offender and not think about the thing or things they did that offended you. When you interact with them, or speak of them to others, you don’t bring up the offenses from the past: distant or recent. When you think of them, you no longer calculate plans to let loose the fleas of a thousand camels into their underwear drawer.
You let it go. Not because they deserve it, although maybe they do. But more importantly, you let it go because in letting it go, you protect yourself from an enemy attack. Try this, just for fun. See how long you can go without taking up an offense… even a small one. Can you go a day, two? Can you? You might be surprised at how often the opportunity arises to take the enemy’s bait.