When was the last time you were offended by something or someone? Most of us don’t see a whole lot of harm in being offended. After all, it’s a natural reaction. Someone says something that is cruel or just doesn’t sit right with you. Or maybe someone you thought was a friend completely ignores you. We’ve all been offended, and I’m sure we’ve all done our fair share of offending.
But is getting offended the right way to handle things? Sure, it’s a natural reaction, but should it be our reaction as children of God?
Here are four reasons we should avoid getting offended:
It’s pointless. Really, truly… what good comes from being offended? It just ruins our day and quite possibly a relationship. And more often than not, the offending party has no idea we’re even offended! So while we’re mulling over the offense, they are going about their business as happy as can be. So again I ask, what’s the point?
It ruins relationships. When we get offended by someone, we typically respond by creating a defensive barrier between us and that person. So what’s the result of allowing yourself to become offended? Congratulations, you’ve just built a wall – one that has to be torn down in order for the relationship to be restored. (And trust me, it’s much easier to build a wall than to tear one down!)
It destroys our ability to be effective for the Kingdom of God. As the body of Christ, we are called to function together in unity, and that means we have to actually get along. The Apostle Paul tells us to make every effort to live in harmony with one another. Why? Because as Jesus said, the world knows we belong to God by our love for each other.
What does it say to the world when Christians are constantly getting offended and severing relationships?
It causes bitterness in our lives, which eventually leads to a lot of other problems.
…Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. – Hebrews 12:15 (NLT)
The Bible actually refers to bitterness as a “poisonous root.” And roots that aren’t dealt with immediately have a tendency to grow. Trust me when I say that the longer bitterness has a chance to fester and grow, the harder it is to get rid of and the more likely it will have a negative impact on your life. As the book of Hebrews points out, it corrupts. It not only puts a strain between you and the offender, but it puts a strain in your relationship with God. It can even affect your life and health.
There are two reasons someone offends: they do or say something not meaning to offend, or they do or say something with every intention to offend. But regardless of the reason, our reaction should be love and forgiveness – not offense. If our ultimate goal as Christians is to live in harmony with one another so that we can be effective for God and grow in Christ, then we have no time to spare by being offended.
Getting offended is simply counterproductive to our cause, and it can literally destroy us.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. – Proverbs 19:11 (NLT)