Forgiving Offenses

Have you ever found yourself frustrated by people who aren’t paying attention in traffic and inevitably force you to slam on your brakes? I certainly have. After an eye roll and a possible snarky comment and perhaps even a hand “signal”, does this reaction make you feel better or set up the rest of your day for bad reactions?

Why do we allow such trivial matters to dictate our days? Why in the world do we get so easily offended by the actions of others?

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It might be likely that we identify too much with being right. Think about my traffic example. Maybe you think: I’d never cut someone off—because I’m an excellent driver. 

Essentially, we get angry because we assume we’re a better person than the bad driver, better than others. We too quickly forget we’re all in the same boat: the imperfect boat. We all fall short of God’s perfection. 

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23

We might even assume others are intentionally trying to provoke or hurt us. We form instant negative opinions about others based on this hurtful assumption. We can’t allow our unfounded feelings to wreak havoc in our lives. Feelings are meant to indicators for us, not dictators. Recognise them, but then focus on the facts.

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Here are three ways to help you avoid becoming easily offended.

1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Proverbs 19:11 gives us the wisdom to overlook an offense. People don’t always intend to hurt you. So, if you want to assume, just assume they didn’t mean to hurt you. Maybe they’re responding to real hurt and stress in their life. You and I have probably said offensive things we didn’t mean, and people have probably shown us grace. Let’s reciprocate that. A person with a mature faith will abstain from making assumptions and instead choose to give the benefit of the doubt.

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.  Proverbs 19:11

2. Lighten up. When we get offended, we assume that the other person had us in mind. That, my friend, is arrogance. There is a strong chance that you weren’t even in the equation when they said or did that offensive thing. Lighten up by not making yourself the center of the world—and lighten up by letting go of the offense faster than it can weigh you down.

3. Talk yourself off the ledge. When you feel an offense rising up, ask yourself: Why does this bother me? Will this even matter in a day or a week? We must get to the core of why we are so upset. The only thing we gain by being offended is chaos on the inside.

Remember: No one can make you feel offended. Will people say devastating things that make it difficult to remain unoffended? Yes. But can we really stop them? No. 

We cannot choose their actions, but we can choose how we respond—like letting go or creating boundaries for situations that show themselves to be repeatedly hurtful. Then, we can choose to give people the benefit of the doubt and talk ourselves down from situations when our offenses begin to skyrocket. 

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.  Ephesians 5: 1‭-‬2

“Jesus’ approval is better than life. We need to ask ourselves; do we want Jesus’ approval or is our desire for vengeance stronger and keeping us from seeing our Saviour? We must choose, to love as Christ loves, to take those thoughts captive, and choose not to dwell in the pain. In those moments, we must remind ourselves, “I can forgive, because I am forgiven.”

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And we must forgive ourselves, too.

Heavenly Father, please help me to show others grace today. Let my words be kind and my actions helpful. Please help me not to respond selfishly. Instead, allow me to respond with love. In Jesus Name, Amen

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