I was talking with a great group of girls the other day. We were walking through my first official ZOOM Bible Study, exploring “Don’t Be Mad at Your Yes.” I love how God moves through simple conversation with honest and open people. I learned so much from just our first session. I would like to share with you a couple of the thoughts we sifted through.
Two days before this session, I started a book called, “Unoffendable.” I was discovering that part of being “mad at my yes” was about being offended. Whether I am offended by someone’s response to my yes or no or the choices others make (their own yes or no). As we examined some of our more recent offenses, we found ourselves arguing together that the concept of not ever being offended simply doesn’t work for us. Not because we want to be offended, but because we feel there are simply some things that aren’t okay. There are ways to treat people that are offensive. There are words you can use that are rude, manipulative, guilt-laden … I could keep going. There are things that are okay, and there are things that are not. We protested, “There are things that should offend us,” and even with the acknowledgment of how personality and past experiences shape a portion of what we may consider offensive, surely there are some basic things that are plainly and simply oh-fen-sive. So then we began to ask what God asks of us in terms of offense:
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others. Ecclesiastes 7:21
Blessed is anyone who is not offended on account of me. Matthew 11:16
Then, there are these:
Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins (offenses). 1 Peter 4:8
As we talked, there were a few things we realized about the situations that are currently offending us.
1. It was one thing to be offended, but it was another thing entirely to stay offended.
When we talk about “taking up an offense,” it’s more about how we hold that moment or action. Do we acknowledge we were wronged or something is dysfunctional, and then move forward, express our opinion and let go, allowing God to handle it? Or, do we “take it up” and wear it like our favorite hoodie? Does it become a part of our wardrobe? Putting it on as our offense starts to define a relationship or rationalizes our judgement or lack of forgiveness.
I think we often cling to an offense as a security blanket, feeling disoriented if we were to lose it. It makes us feel justified. It makes us feel protected or defended.
2. Taking off an offense doesn’t mean the offense wasn’t offensive.
I think sometimes we hold on to a grudge or passively punish people, clinging tight to our offense out of fear that if we drop it, if we forgive, God won’t see the wrong. As if setting ourselves free from the offense might risk condoning the wrong action. Someone might get away with something that isn’t right or isn’t fair. But that’s not the case.
I can remember being so offended about a certain situation. The person apologized, and I “surface accepted,” but I still wanted others to see, or some type of penance/punishment. I wanted this person to have a consequence, and I felt like a lack of consequence was God’s way to saying their action was okay. During an internal rant, God broke through, “I’m not saying what they did was okay. I’m not asking you to think it was okay. I’m not okay with it either.” You can let go of the offense. God’s got it. God sees it. God knows.
3. People will be offended by your lack of offense.
This one deserves an entire post itself. Stay tuned.