Offended | STEADY as WE GO
Monday— Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:15
Being offended has become America’s favorite pastime. If you’re not a white, Christian, straight, genetic male, you are urged to establish a subgroup and let the world know how you’ve been victimized. If you’re not in a socially-acceptable subgroup, you are “part of the problem.” Therefore, you have offended vast numbers of people by simply existing. This mindset is deadlier than any virus and has been nearly forty years in the making. We can better understand it when we consider its history. In the 1980’s, “What you did offended me.” In the early 2000’s, “What you said offended me.” But by 2020, “What you think offends me.” And the result of such an offense-culture is a poisonous root of bitterness that has grown up and is corrupting many.
It’s easy to get swept up in offense because it is so celebrated. If you have the embarrassing misfortune of not belonging to a marginalized subgroup, there’s always virtue-signaling. As long as we select the right banners for our profile pictures, post only woke quotes, and take offense at every comment made by anyone in public life, we prove that we’re not racist, transphobic, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic capitalists without having to actually DO anything. Sadly, Christians are being caught up in this politically-correct mob-think, believing it to be the essence of the gospel. It’s not. Corporate offense is NEVER God’s way of righting wrongs. Mob-think crucified the Son of God. Political correctness stoned Paul. An offended mob rarely does God’s work. We’re not called to scream about offenses but to love offenders. Only then do we virtue-signal a better way.
Final Thought: Jumping on the bandwagon of offense is not God’s way of spreading His message. Forgiveness is.
Prayer: Father, this culture is confusing. I want to show support for those who’ve been mistreated, but the politically-correct way of doing so only creates bitterness. Help me demonstrate your way of righting wrongs. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. Proverbs 18:19
Before we focus on healing our own hurts, we have to recognize that we offend people too. To offend is to hurt or demean someone else. Sometimes the offense was silly or unintentional, but it remains a barrier in a relationship. What do we do when that happens? Humble ourselves. It takes guts to apologize, especially when we don’t think we should have to. But there’s a right and a wrong way to clear an offense. The wrong way is to suggest the other person is to blame: “I’m sorry you were offended by that. It was no big deal.” The right way is to own it: “I realize I offended you. Would you please forgive me?
A humble apology validates a hurtful experience. When people feel validated, they are more likely to open their hearts to further communication. Offended people stay closed; validated people open up. Making things right with someone we’ve offended also clears our conscience with God and that should be a Christian’s top priority. Successful Christians live in a state of ongoing repentance. We keep our sins confessed and our accounts cleared with others. No one should be able to say of us, “They know they offended me and they’ve never made it right.” To be a Christian is to be ever-evolving, becoming more like Jesus. That’s impossible when our consciences are crowded with hurts we inflicted and never corrected. God wants us to live with a clear conscience so that we can enjoy His presence. When we take responsibility, God takes it from there.
Final Thought: Is there anyone who can truthfully say of you, “You wronged me and never made it right”?
Prayer: Father, search my heart and show me offenses I’ve caused and never made right. I want to live with a clear conscience. I can’t force someone to forgive me, but I can do my part by owning what I did. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— …it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:10
“I wouldn’t let him get away with that!” “Can you believe how she treated you? I’d never let someone treat me like that!”
Our friends, co-workers, and even total strangers are quick with advice when they see we’ve been offended. But is that advice always wise? Our pride wants us to defend ourselves (Nobody treats me like that!), but God sees it differently. As we study ways to handle offenses, let’s start with the most obvious: LETTING IT GO. In God’s view, this response earns five stars.
However, before we rush to overlook everything, let’s apply a few filters. Some wrongs should not be overlooked. Repeated abuse, misbehaving children, and spousal infidelity are examples of offenses that require action on our part. But the kind of offenses we should overlook are those that merely annoy us. The obnoxious, irritating, there-he-goes-again offenses by the socially-dense. Everyone blubbers or blunders at times, so instead of demanding apologies, it’s a virtue to overlook them. The opposite responses are “what-did-he-mean-by-that” and “why-wasn’t-I-invited” attitudes that take over if we’re not careful. Pouting is to no one’s glory. When we pout, we’re showcasing some character flaws that God wants us to overcome. We can learn to thank God for the offense because it highlighted our own pride and selfishness. Then we repent of it and let it go.
Final Thought: If pouting is your usual response to minor offenses, see it as a chance to crucify pride and embrace humility.
Prayer: Father, I am thinking of the times I pouted when someone offended me. Help me grow up in this area. I recognize that pouting is only pride taking control of me. Forgive me and help me learn to overlook little offenses. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9
“But don’t forget how they treated you last year,” Clive scolded. “It’s too soon to act like all is forgiven. They still need to pay.” Jess frowned. “But I really care about them,” she said. “We have a lot of history together. They apologized.” Clive flipped off his desk light and stood to leave. “Well, do what you want, but I know how I’ve handled traitors like that in my own life. They’re still paying for it.” Jess squinted up at her co-worker. “But didn’t you say you’ve cut most of your family out of your life? Didn’t you spend the holidays alone? Has it made you happy?” Clive snorted. “Happy? No, but I’m right and they need to know it.”
How far will you go to punish someone who has offended you? Punishing offenses is our nation’s second favorite pastime. Think about how much of the current hostility is due to one group’s desire to punish another group for perceived offenses. We can never be “one nation under God” as long as we hold on to wrongs committed generations ago. Everyone has been wronged at some point. It’s impossible to get through life without being hurt, betrayed, misused, or overlooked. We were wronged and we have a right to be angry—but it doesn’t take us where we want to go. God’s solution is forgiveness and He did it first. We follow His example when we forgive the faults of others. Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?
Final Thought: Has hanging on to offenses made you happy? Try it God’s way. Forgive and move on.
Prayer: Father, I am thinking of some relationships that have crumbled because I or someone else wouldn’t forgive. Hanging on to offense benefits no one. Even though reconciliation may not be wise, I forgive and move on. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— “Where did this man get all these things [that He is teaching]?” And they took offense at Him. Matthew 13:57
“Well, that just does it! Who does He think He is, strutting around here claiming to be God? I used to help Him lace His sandals and my daughter babysat Him and His brothers. Now He’s calling us sinners! I’m done with Him. He offends me!” Jesus offended people everywhere He went. Was He wrong? Did He need to ask their forgiveness? Of course not. His offense was not His personality but His message: Truth given in love. So causing offense is not always wrong. Consider this scenario:
You were sent to Sensitivity Training because you mentioned that you once played Cowboys and Indians as a kid. In the first class, the topic was homosexuality. The instructor stressed that this lifestyle was normal and good. Everyone else agreed and verbally affirmed the gay couples in attendance. Then he turned to you: “Okay, your turn. You’ve been invited to a gay wedding. How would you respond?” There is only one answer that will not offend, but you know what God’s word says. To declare the truth from scripture will alienate the class and possibly result in your job termination because you flunked Sensitivity Training. What do you do? What did Jesus do? He never changed what He said or did due to the response He would get. He was not offensive, but His message was. It still is. Obeying the Lord means offending a world that refuses to.
Final Thought: We should do everything possible to be unoffensive while staying true to a very offensive message.
Prayer: Jesus, you said the world would hate your followers because it first hated you. May I become so like you that my personality offends no one, even though your message might. May I never compromise it simply to avoid offense. Amen.