In my meditations lately, relationships have been heavy on my heart. I’ve been noticing a phenomenon lately. One that has no wisdom, Biblically or otherwise, as a foundation. But widespread nonetheless.
What is this prevalent, though unwise, thought? The thought that one should never be offended. That if one is offended about anything, something is wrong. Something needs to be said, done, or corrected. Someone needs confronting. And then, of course, a person also has the perfect right to stew about it.
However, Jesus says in Matthew 18:7, that offenses WILL come. So, the first thing we need to come to terms with is that offenses WILL COME. There is no way around that. You will be offended by your spouse. By your parents. By your child. By your boss. By your employee. By your neighbor. By the person sitting next to you in church. The only way to not be offended by someone is to not let your life touch that person or that person touch your life. Since you cannot follow Christ and also not be in fellowship with His Body, that is not an option.
So, what should you do when offenses come your way? First of all, love God’s Word. Immerse yourself in it, meditate on it. Love it. Psalms 119:165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” So, even though the offense may come your way, if you love God’s Word, you can deflect such offense. To the extent that you may not even notice it. We also need to look at the flip side of this. If you are noticing too many offenses, perhaps you have not developed that true love of God’s Word. Everyone say, “Ouch.”
Secondly, accept those in your life. Accept who they are. Accept that they won’t live up to your expectations. It is not your job or mission to change them; that is Christ’s job. And it is also not your job to somehow passively punish them.
What is your job, mission, or part in this? Forgive. Further on in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter that there is no limit to how many times you must forgive someone – for the same offense. The best way to accomplish limitless forgiveness is to forgive beforehand. Beforehand? Yes. When you start your day, purpose in yourself that you forgive all those you will come in contact with during the progress of the day. That way, when the irritation, the bothersome quip, the offense comes your way, with the help, strength, and guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will automatically forgive. Once forgiven, the offense is vanquished.
What happens when the offenses are deflected and vanquished? You put down the emotional burden. There is peace. Peace inside you. Peace in your relationships. Peace in your marriage. Peace in your home. Peace in the fellowship of believers.