Ever been offended before? Where someone insulted you? Or spread rumors about you? Or made fun of you? Or rejected you? Or bullied you? Or spat on you? Or disagreed with you? Or ignored you? Or belittled you?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been offended in life. I also can’t tell you the number of times I’ve offended those around me. (I see your hand.) And at the risk of further offense, I guarantee you I’m not alone in all this. (I see your hand again.)
As a pastor, every single relationship problem I’ve run into through the years has been centered around someone who got offended – no matter whether the offense was real or imagined. And that’s what makes this issue so vitally important. We are, after all, a people who are called to walk in Jesus-like unity with one another. (Loving, serving, blessing, and encouraging one another.) Getting offended usually puts a big kibosh on this very high calling from God.
Just so you know, there are two basic ways to keep from getting offended in life. The first is to try and control the emotions, thoughts, words, and actions of others so they won’t ever do anything to offend you. (Good luck with that!) The second is to try and control your own emotions, thoughts, words and actions in such a way that you won’t be so easily offended by others. (What the Bible calls “ruling your spirit.”)
I don’t have to tell you which way is the by-far best, do I?
With that in mind, here are three things that can help you rule your spirit … three things that can help protect you from getting offended in life.
1. Learn to presume the best.
I’m constantly amazed by how many “he hurt me” accusations are more imaginary than real. That’s why I usually ask the accuser tons of questions about what really happened. “What did he actually say (or do) to you?” “How do you know he meant what you think he meant?” I can’t tell you how many times the answers are something like, “Well, he didn’t really say it, but that’s what he meant” or “I could tell by the expression on his face.”
Making wrong presumptions about the words, actions, thoughts, or feelings of others puts you smack in position to get offended. So put out a cease and desist order on these damaging thoughts. Learn to spot them early on so they don’t have time to roost.
Train yourself instead to make positive presumptions. (I Corinthians 13:7 tells us that love “believes all things.”) When someone says or does something to you that might be construed as hurtful, learn to presume the best. Presume that they are a godly believer who would never maliciously do anything to hurt you. Presume that they love you, treasure you, and desire the very best for your life. It’s amazing how much this kingdom way of thinking can protect you from getting offended in life.
2. Learn to rest in God’s view of you.
Being offended by the thoughts or actions of others often points more to our own insecurity issues than to whatever issues the “offenders” might be struggling with. Insecure people are sensitive people. And sensitive people get easily hurt.
So get secure. How? Gain a right view of who you are in God’s eyes. Don’t allow society, culture, friends, family, bosses, television shows, or past experience to determine how you view yourself. Only God knows the truth about you. Only God sees you the right way. Only God can appraise your true value. So climb up on the firm Rock of how He views you and learn to rest in that place. Then when the waves of offense crash around you, they won’t be able to touch your heart, and you’ll be able to walk through life safe, secure, and unoffended.
3. Learn to bless those who curse you.
Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it? (From the lips of Jesus Himself!) When you do actually run into that not-the-norm person who maliciously throws stones your way, make it your mission to bless them. Abundantly.
There’s a very, very good chance that their offensive words or behavior come from their own deep wounds or insecurity. And there’s a very, very good chance that God desires to use you to bring about their healing and freedom. So begin to bless them. Release the peace of God over them. Ask the Father to heal their heart, prosper their family, restore their true identity, and give them a revelation of His incredible heart for them. Speak words of encouragement and hope to them. Prophesy God’s value, purpose, and destiny over their lives.
Get the picture? It’s kinda tough to be offended by others when their welfare becomes your mission.
One final thought …
Other people don’t have the power to offend you. They don’t have the power to steal your peace. They don’t have the power to control your heart responses. As a child of God, you have the privilege, power, and responsibility to rule your own spirit. That’s the kingdom way to freedom from offense. Be blessed as you walk down this path!