We live in at a time where everyone is offended by everything. It really makes life difficult for all of us. We walk on eggshells as we try to navigate the minefield before us. Did we offend? What will offend? Is my hair offensive? What about my faith? Am I allowed to have a political opinion? If I am, do I dare share it? Second to this, and often from those that complain about the ease of offense, we find ourselves offended.
Offense is a stumbling block to every human. It is a natural reaction to tough situations. Yet, as believers, we are called to live above offense. Perhaps no one has explained this better than John Bevere. Pastor Bevere writes about this in his superb book, “The Bait of Satan.” Offense is closely related to unforgivness. Therefore, it is a trap that our enemy sets for us. We fall into the trap of anger over a comment and we justify our anger through our offense. We claim we have a right to be offended.
Bevere states, “Trials in this life will expose what is in your heart—whether the offense is toward God or others. Tests either make you bitter toward God and your peers or stronger. If you pass the test, your roots will shoot down deeper, stabilizing you and your future. If you fail, you become offended, which can lead to defilement with bitterness.”
Psalm 25:15 states, “My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.” In this verse, God through King David, teaches us how to avoid the trap of offense. Like so many other things in this life, we simply have to keep our eyes on Jesus. That of course is easier said than done. Especially since we live at a time where reaction rather than thought is king.
Offense is a choice that we make. I would submit that most of the time it is a conscience choice that we make. We decide that those words, rather than these words offend us. In that moment, we take on an air of unforgivness and…dare I say it…pride. Pride causes us to esteem ourselves and our circumstances higher than any other person. Before you throw out the “that’s ridiculous” statement, think with me here. If I have no pride…the need to be right about a specific topic, is it possible to offend me? No, it is not. Therefore offense, pride, and unforgivness are like an unholy trinity of ungodly emotions.
My wife and I have been blessed with four wonderful kids. Two came to us by birth and my wife’s labor. Two came to us by labor of piles of paperwork. Both of our adopted kids are special needs. As parents we have a choice to make in this. Is it fair for us to expect every person to understand their situations? Of course not. Is it fair for us to assume that people are being purposefully mean when they do not understand? Again, of course not. So, this leaves us with two options. Can you guess what they are? Contestant #1. “You can teach your kids to be offended.” Ding Ding Ding…what do we have for him Johnny?
Second, we can teach our kids to live above offense. To understand that people will not always understand their circumstance. Some may laugh, others may ask pointed questions, some will simply avoid it. It really doesn’t matter; God has called us to give people the benefit of the doubt. Our son Joshua is blind. This is obvious to any person paying attention. No, it’s not just because of his cane. He is Chinese and has blue eyes. His advanced form of Glaucoma has caused the pigment in his eyes to change as well as causing his eyes to protrude from his head. I strive to teach him to laugh about his disability and in humility understand that others will not be understanding.
Before you yell at me for the second time, “that’s not fair to this little boy”, let me remind you that I want him to grow to be a strong man of God not an easily offended and a bitter person. I submit this question to you, is it easier for me to teach my son to live above offense or for me to teach 300 billion people to be “sensitive” and understand every possible scenario of every special need person in the world? I don’t know about you, but I think it easier for me to focus on my one.
We are normally very sensitive to our own feelings and opinions, but what about that of others. Now, you may think I am going to turn around and tell the world to be sweet. NOPE! What I will say is that rather than being offended, we need to look at the other person’s life. Perhaps that person is laughing because they use humor to deal with their own illness. That’s what I would do. I’m currently losing my hair while my brother, four years older than me, is not. I could be offended by every comment about my ever growing bald spot, instead, I use it as a point of humor. I can’t change it. It is what it is as they say, so I am left with a choice. Will I be offended…Nah, I realize the back of my head is quickly resembling Friar Tuck. Don’t be surprised if I don a brown robe and comb my hair to really show the balding….if I get candy, it will be worth it.
Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3 NLT) C. S. Lewis once stated, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” If we focus on Jesus as Psalm 25 reminds us, then we live above offense. If you look for offense, you will find it every time. So, the next time someone misunderstands your circumstance, laugh it off, poke fun at yourself, and live free from offense.