“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12–13, ESV)
One thing I have learned is I’m not perfect. I’ve made my share of mistakes. I need grace. I need others to be patient and understanding with me. We are all like that. We could all use a little more grace extended our way.
As I recognize my need for grace, I understand that others need grace as well. Be patient with others and give them the benefit of the doubt. As the Scripture tells us, be slow to take offense (James 1:19-20).
But we are often quick to take offense. I sometimes wonder if we go out of our way to look for ways to be offended by the words and actions of others. When it comes to being offended, there are two types of people who offend us. There are those who don’t intend and those who do intend to offend us.
In Colossians, the Apostle Paul tells us with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patients to bear with one another. It’s easy to get upset and angry with people for their shortcomings even when they never intend to give offense.
I know there are many times in my life where the message received by another person, was not the message I intended. This is especially true in electronic communications such as email. A general rule I will follow is to try never to be offended by something someone shares in an email. There is too much room for misinterpretation when the person is not face-to-face with you.
Even when you are with a person face-to-face, be patient. Before you get offended make sure that you seek to understand and truly have received the message they wanted to share with you rather than the message you thought they wanted to share.
While I believe that we are often more guilty of taking offense than we at giving offense, there are plenty of times when people do indeed intend to offend us.
One thing that has helped me to be more patient and grace filled with people who offend me is to recognize that many of them do not have Jesus in their life. They are missing out on the peace, joy, and hope he has to offer. Their lives are filled with sorrow and frustration. They are not living with any higher purpose other than to make it through the day.
Hurting people hurt other people. The hurt that they are attempting to pile on to you is often a cry for help. They just don’t know how to ask for help.
They need grace, not your offense. Offer words of kindness or an act of grace. They need it in a big way! It may be something as simple as offering a smile or a complement. Maybe you have heard it said, “kill them with kindness.” It’s not the other person to kill, but the hurt inside them.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV)
Finally, sometimes it is better just to walk away. There are times when love and kindness with only be met with resistance. A person’s heart may be so hardened that they will refuse any help that is given. I am reminded of Jesus words:
“And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”” (Luke 9:5, ESV)
You can pray for the person. You can feel sorrow for the other person. But sometimes it is best just to let go of the offense and to move on.
- Is there a time when others were offended by something you said when you never intended to give offense?
- How can you better seek understanding before taking offense?
- How do you know when it is time to walk away from a situation or person?