I once had a cat named Bella. No, this is not a limerick.
Mischievous, demanding, playful. And easily offended. She knew how to keep a grudge and to exact revenge with precision. The minute I was ready to leave for work, she’d reach for my ankles and deftly place a run in my pantyhose, then sprint away to an inaccessible place while I fumed. Never underestimate the intelligence of animals.
I thought of her this week. Sometimes my behavior mirrors hers when it comes to being offended. No, I don’t put a run in anyone’s pantyhose or bite or scratch up their hands. 😉 But I do catch feelings unnecessarily. Feelings that do nothing to build me up, or the “offender.”
I say it to my shame.
You know things are out of whack when you see someone’s posts in your Facebook news feed and feel what I like to call a “grrrrr” in your spirit. That difference of opinion, that spirited debate, those unsaid words or actions left undone–they churn something up on the inside that shows up on the outside as a grimace. A squeezing or rolling of the eyes. A tightness in the body. An unspoken “Hiss! Boo!”
I know some of you can relate; others of you might be too spiritual to have these fleshly fits. 👿
I went back to the book that helped me deal with offense and forgiveness, John Bevere’s “The Bait of Satan.” These words hit me: “It is not a question of opportunity to be offended, but what your response will be.”
Luke 17:1 gives Jesus’s definitive statement on the matter: “It is impossible that no offenses should come.”
So, how do we avoid the destruction that follows being offended?
- Don’t let the grrrrr in your grudge grow. Bevere notes that the Greek word for “offend” is “skandalon.” It’s the part of a trap for animals on which the bait is positioned. Recognize when a trap is being set. Then, if you don’t take the bait, you can’t be trapped. If you decide not to be offended, even if the person did you wrong, you’ve begun the journey to wholeness and healing.
- Choose the high road. The air is fresher and you’ll be in better shape. 😀 I love Anita Matthias’s take on the high road:
“Overlook lots of things. Blow things away with the breath of kindness. When spoken to harshly, you don’t need to retort in kind. Return a gentle answer or none at all when someone gets irrational through tiredness.”
- Forgive and live; lie and die. You’re lying to yourself if you think harboring a grudge will do anything positive for you. It’s a slow spiritual and emotional death. “Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts—these are poison.” Ephesians 4:31
- Have great expectations of God, but limited expectations (or none at all!) of (wo)men. Misconstrued expectations often lead to offenses being taken. “Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” Colossians 3:12
- Do a Bible study on bitterness, resentment, and offense. I did, and it got me clothed in my right mind. “A person with discretion is not easily angered; he gains respect by overlooking an offense.” Proverbs 19:11. Word!
- Decide to be thankful and to seek the good in the situation. Bitterness and gratitude cannot coexist.
Do you get that “grrrrr” of resentment and offense often? How do you handle it?