Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do I Have the Right to Be Offended?




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. 



9 comments:

  1. Thank you, I LIKE this!!

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  2. Melinda6:36 AM

    This is a very wise and encouraging post. Thank you. When you were speaking of it not being my job to change people, I also thought of the fact that people do change. We all change and grow. We need to allow space for others to grow, just as we have done. I also appreciated very much the idea of forgiving beforehand and preparing ourselves a the beginning of the day to meet offenses with grace and forgiveness.

    This isn't just a very good post. It is excellent.

    Melinda

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  3. I love what you've written here, Dorothy! This has been my experience as well... except I feel compelled to add that I find this to be the case overwhelmingly (but not exclusively) more often amongst fundamentalist Christians than any other circle of folks I've encountered. In fact, it is for this very reason that I am not a fundamentalist Christian anymore, even tho I was for years.

    If you talk to or read the writings of any of the famous "Titus 2 women" (and I am NOT referring to myself here!!) who have since given up that mindset & belief system, you will find that at the root of their walking away was the way they were treated by their fundamentalist Christian "sisters".... treated in the exact way you discuss here in your post + other ways as well. All very un-Christian but done in the Name of Jesus. Amazing... and so very sad.

    Ack... this is a totally toxic subject for me so I am going to end my comment here... except to say that I really *really* love what you said here and found much wisdom in it. Thank you for enriching my life with this writing, Lady Dorothy. Love you!! xoxoxoxoxo

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  4. I understand exactly what you are saying, Andrea, and that is the reason I wrote this. Though I don't think the problem is more prevalent amongst Christians, it can often FEEL that way -- BECAUSE we think offense should not happen amongst Christians. That they should be more "perfect" than that. When we expect that, we get bitterly disappointed. You see, we are all just forgiven sinners. As Christians, we are on the same path -- just in different places along that journey.

    This is also why I don't follow people or denominations or whatever. Not that I don't think people and denominations are of God, but we can so easily stumble if we think they are the goal. I consider true Christianity as being a follower of Christ. Him alone and nothing else added. If I keep my eyes on Him, I won't stumble. It is only when I look down, that I fall.

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  5. Thank you, Melinda. You have a very good point there in allowing people to change!

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  6. I think it's undoubtedly true that all people don't encounter this from primarily fundamentalist Christians, Dorothy, but in my life I have found that to be true. The less a person wears their "religion" on their shirtsleeve, the more apt they are to not be "offended" at something that someone else does or says.

    Present company & family excluded from that generalization, btw!! :)

    That's just been my experience and I'm sure it's different for everyone. That was such a toxic, traumatic & horrible time of my life that I wouldn't be in the presence of a group of fundamentalist Christians again for anything in the world. There's lots of homeschooling groups in our area, that would be nice for our youngest to participate in, but they are all *very* fundamentalist & the resulting problems and turmoil in those groups plays out what I'm trying to explain here. Therefore I stay clear of them!

    Being in a group of pagans or athiests is a lot easier for me to handle than being in a group of fundamentalist Christians. Lots less silliness.

    I've enjoyed our conversation, dear Dorothy. You and dear Daja are truly beautiful exceptions to what I have been talking about here. I love you & your family!!

    xoxoxoxoxoxo

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  7. I am glad that God allows opportunities to practice forgiveness.

    Happy New Year! Happy New Decade!

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  8. God gave us emotions because they are a good thing, but when people give in to them and allow their emotions to rule their life, that's when the trouble begins.
    Yes, we have the right to be offended. It's what we do with those feelings that make us more like Christ--or not.

    Thanks for a great post. Well done.

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  9. I'm going to share this with our cell group!

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