We’ve all had those days where we had to deal with someone who irritated us. I won’t pretend to be overly spiritual…I have those days too. In fact, I experienced one recently. I knew that I needed to pray about my attitude, because even though the other person’s behavior was wrong, my own attitude was also wrong (Matthew 5:23-24).
Offense….it seems to be so common that people expect to find it everywhere. The truth is, if we are looking for offense, we will definitely find it. I don’t know about you, but keeping my own heart and mind in check is hard enough without actually LOOKING for things to get upset about. People just being themselves…with all of their issues (reacted to by my own!)…can offer us opportunities to be offended by things that we aren’t looking for, and certainly don’t welcome!
I prayed about my struggle with being offended at someone and came away with amazing and convicting revelation. Jesus said that the truth would set you free. Well, the Truth spoke, and I was freed from my attitude once I understood what was really happening. Leave it to the Lord to pierce right through to the heart of the matter. Sometimes, the problem isn’t the problem. Sometimes the real problem is much deeper, yet, simpler.
Before I share that, let me define “offense” for you. I’ve had people argue with me that they aren’t offended…and storm off angrily. Perhaps we don’t grasp what it really is. It can be as simple as frustration because someone isn’t doing something the way we would do it (or the right way, by our standards). We can get offended at “those” other drivers. Yes, I just went there! Offense can happen when the lid is off the toothpaste or the toilet paper is hung the wrong way. Offense can be getting your feelings hurt when you are overlooked. Offense can be feeling a pang of jealousy over your friends having fun…without you. There are SOOO many opportunities to be offended that go beyond what we are always seeing in the media.
Please understand, we can have legitimate reasons to be upset. People can do wrong things, and those in the wrong need correction. What I tell people who come to me for counsel or coaching is that I can’t fix that “other” person, but I can help you to have peace within yourself. I wish we could change those “other” people. Life would be so much better…or would it? I’ll leave that question for another day.
My own recent offense had to do with someone’s controlling behavior. It irritated me because I recognized it for what it was, but, there was something else. I recognized the same tendency in myself, perhaps not to the same degree, but those actions were definitely a mirror reflecting back at me. Yeah, that one hurt! You see, we often don’t see things as they are but as WE are!
I repented quickly of my own guilt, and sighed. I also realized that I had another problem. I was still offended by this person’s behavior. How can I pray for God to “fix” them, when my own attitude wasn’t right? See Matthew 7:1-5…it’s a little parable about specks and planks. Check it out!
With my less than loving attitude in mind, I began to journal my time with God. I’ve learned to use several questions to help me process things like this and quickly get to the heart of the matter. As I asked the Lord what His heart was about this and what He was revealing about my situation, I heard that I’m supposed to be unoffendable, and that the key to being unoffendable was to trust Him more. I try to control things because of a lack of trust. Out of that desire to control comes offense, because truly, control is an illusion. We really DON’T have control, no matter how hard we try.
So that’s it. Offense is tied to a feeling of lack of control, and the desire to control comes from a lack of trust in God. We don’t trust that He sees. We don’t trust that He’ll take care of us. We don’t trust that He will bring justice. From our own viewpoint, we don’t see how that can happen, so we try to do it ourselves…and it doesn’t work.
From our offenses, we now discover that we have a different set of problems than we realized. Our offense problem isn’t what we thought it was. It’s much deeper.
With that, there’s much more praying that needs to happen! Our minds must be renewed through the Word, meditation in the Word, prayer, and worship. (Romans 12:2, Hebrews 4:12, Matthew 6:33)
To be continued….
© 2016 Deborah Wittig