Do You Get Easily Offended?

Today’s Truth:

Sensible people control their temper;
  they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.” Proverbs 19:11

Sometimes in life, we get the rare opportunity to learn something new that can totally change everything—about how we respond, feel, understand things, and relate to others. For me, “Today’s Truth” has changed my life profoundly, almost as much as understanding who Jesus really is (see Matt. 16:13-20).

I’m talking about overcoming the tendency to get easily offended. 

I’ve had a pattern of losing close friends throughout my entire life. Of course, this is not something I’m proud of, as it has caused me a lot of pain and loss over the years. Last year, through the words of a very wise woman, I heard the plea to stop allowing myself to get easily offended. She was addressing a group of women, but it seemed those words were meant directly for me. (Have you ever had one of those moments? If so, you can understand how amazing that is!)

Here I was a woman in my 40s, hearing this new thinking for the very first time. In a moment, her message gave me a new truth and a new way to respond to actions, or “wrongdoings” by others, that I allowed to hurt and offend me.

The definition of to be offended is becoming “resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult” (the key word here is “perceived”). A perception means, “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” Makes sense, right? What happens is that if I’m mentally unhealthy, then my ability to make a healthy assessment of something is flawed. Insecurity, fear of losing control, too high of expectations, hanging on to past hurts and wrongs, and pride can affect my perceptions of what’s actually going on in a negative way. Those things will always lead me to become easily offended, resulting in defensiveness, conflict, pain, and unwanted drama in my life.

What did this look like for me? I was guilty of perceiving every little glance, look, comment, or piece of advice as an attack or rejection against me personally. If a friend canceled on me, I was offended. If I wasn’t invited, I was hurt and felt left out. If someone offered a new way of doing something, I took it as rejection. Rather than taking a step back to see things through the other person’s viewpoint, I allowed my self-centeredness to get the best of me, even to the point of killing relationships and opportunities.

I’ll tell ya—being someone who offends easily is no way to live and here are some reasons why:

  1. It can put relationships with others in your life at risk. The Bible says,“Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!” (Prov. 17:9, The Message). And “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars” (Prov. 18:19,  NLT).
  2. It can get in the way of learning valuable life lessons. Take Jesus, for example. In Mark 6, he went home to his hometown of Nazareth and began teaching the people there about who he was. They recognized his profound wisdom and saw with their own eyes miracles he performed. But instead of celebrating the life-giving message of their Messiah, they got jealous and offended. They turned off their ears and flat out rejected him. The Savior of the World was in their midst and he ended up leaving that place, his message scorned. By-the-way, who do you think the losers were? The people of Nazareth.
  3. It can distract you, robbing you of the joy and purpose you were meant to have. When we allow ourselves to get easily offended, it is hugely distracting and takes us off course of our work. Not only that but it wastes a ton of emotional energy. Believe me, life is MUCH more peaceful if you refuse to let yourself get easily offended.

Fortunately for me, God sent that angel of a woman to free me from the bondage of futile thinking. I made a decision right then to no longer allow myself to get easily offended because I saw how destructive and counter-productive it is in my life; it only caused conflict, lack of peace, pain, and loss. I’m happier, more focused, more secure in the knowledge of who I am, am more productive in my work. And, for the first time, I am enjoying my friendships and relationships like never before. I am so grateful.

One final thought and then I’m done:

The Bible says, “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). But to do that, it’s going to take the help of the Holy Spirit: “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

My prayer for you is that if you know Jesus as your Savior, you’ll rely on the Spirit to help you in this. If you don’t, you can reach out to God right now and ask him to show you the meaning of his timeless, life-giving message. My hope is that you’ll not respond as one easily offended the way those from Nazareth did, but believe and receive him as he reveals himself to you in the Scriptures (Matt. 16:13-20).

A blog article from Duane Vander Klok teaches about how to handle offenses: click here