Some people are too easily offended, and being around them is like walking on eggshells, never knowing what might trigger them. Some seem always to be looking for something to be offended about. Those easily offended may be anxious, feel inferior, hold grudges, or be self-righteous, yet are vulnerable, insecure, and miserable. Determined to be offended, they may provoke a reason if they can’t find one.
This is especially true in our highly polarized society, divided by ideology, politics, race, religion, etc. It seems everybody is offended by everybody else. Some censure and punish others for their assumed thoughts and motives, posting hate-filled comments on social media platforms. Their outraged rhetoric seems to know no bounds.
Still, we all get offended at one time or another. And, very likely, we have offended someone ourselves. If offenses are so inevitable, what can the Bible teach us about handling them?
Ecclesiastes 7:20–22 tells us, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin. Also do not take to heart everything people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known that even you have cursed others.” Yes, we are all guilty, and we shouldn’t let our feelings be affected—“take it to heart”—because chances are we all have offended someone at one time or another.
Proverbs 19:11 instructs, “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger [ever hear of “counting to ten”?], and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” The smart thing to do is rein in our anger and overlook someone’s offensive comments.
Proverbs 12:16 says, “A fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame.” The English Standard Version translates this: “The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.”
We may want to smooth things over, be at peace, and restore a relationship, whether with a spouse, family member, co-worker, neighbor, or even a stranger. But when the other person doesn’t want peace and instead wants to hold on to an offense, what can we do?
Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43–45).
Wow! Blessing those who curse us and doing good to those who hate us is a tall order! That is not our human nature. But Paul repeats these Christian expectations in Romans 12:14, 17, and 19–21: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.… Repay no one evil for evil.… Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath.… [If] your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink.… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
It may be hard to handle offenses as instructed by Jesus Christ, but those are His instructions. Were they really too much for our Savior to ask? Let’s show Him they weren’t!
The above is adapted from one of the many commentaries discussing vital topics facing our world, available at TomorrowsWorld.org.