2 Corinthians 12:10
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We live in a culture of offended individuals. We scroll through our social media feeds and see instances of offense everywhere. At times it feels as though we as a people have lost our ability to agree to disagree, and remember the fact that we all have a right to opinion whether that opinion right or wrong and whether it is shared or not.
A dear sister in my church unwittingly taught me a lesson on offense. A situation transpired, and I felt the need to apologize for any harsh feelings my actions may have created. Her response to me, was simply, ‘God’s word says we are not to be offended’…the conversation went on, but those words kept playing over and over in my mind. As I thought on them, I began to reach through my memory bank and pull out times when I had been offended.
I was reminded of a time when I allowed offense to take control.
Living in the same town a majority of my life, I have gone from innocent child, to unruly teenager to a parent trying to raise responsible children…all in the same small community. As much as I love my small town, there is a piece that pains my heart. You see in a small town, there is no hiding out. The comfort of knowing everyone can in itself be the source of pain and dread. Most of the faces I encounter today are the same as those from those years of unruliness, rebellion, and poor decision making. Recently, I was faced with a person of my past. Seeing this individual brought back a flood of memories that at one time I had suppressed – not willing to face.
This individual knew me at my worst, and placed a negative label on me. To this day, I remember the way I felt when I learned of their feelings toward me. Their opinion set me on a path of anger, with strong dislike toward them…the dislike you can feel. The kind where your body tenses at the mention of the person’s name, and the thought of what was done, the pain that you felt radiates through you each time you think of it. I resented this individual for YEARS, and found myself avoiding anywhere that I may encounter them…I was offended.
I had the opportunity to see this person in passing not long ago. I was shocked at my reaction to the encounter. There was no pain, or tension. I sat for a moment and was totally honest with myself. Why? Why, had I spent years disliking this person, and avoiding them? I had a moment of truth with myself. I disliked them for so long because what they said was true. They pegged me to a ‘T’, and I didn’t like the truth in what they spoke.
You see, I was weak in this point of time, and allowing myself to become offended stopped any ability for God to show His strength in that weakness. Becoming offended stole my focus. It caused me to look past the problem that was within me…and caused me to look at the other person and focus on the faults that I thought were in them. In doing this, I missed ‘the peaceful fruit of righteousness,’ that God had intended to follow; I didn’t allow myself to be trained through the discipline of hearing something about myself that I didn’t want to hear. Had I been obedient to scripture I would have immediately acknowledged, yes, I was all of the things I had been labeled. Doing so, would have saved me heartache and hurt feelings, and I would have focused on where my pain was really coming from, rather than lashing out unnecessarily. But, I didn’t and I’m not alone.
We all do this. Someone says something and we become offended. We shut them out totally, not truly understanding that what they said more often than not was not meant as a method to tear us down, but rather a means to help us out. I wonder what life would be like if we trained ourselves at the moment offense raises its ugly head, to say, ‘NO!’ and actually live out God’s word. By saying no to offense, you allow Him to be that strength in your weakness, and that moment of painful discipline is allowed to, ‘yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’ Doing this is not something that comes naturally to us. Our natural inclination is to jump to offense, avoidance, and anger. In order to not be offended we must spend time in His word and allow Him to teach us, allow Him to work inside of us, and show us how to be honest with ourselves. When it comes to being offended we are presented two choices. Take offense and run with it… and when you do pile on the anger, stress, and pain it brings with it, or you can take the other option be honest with yourself seek His hand in the situation, find relief and…Choose Him.