Offended: (adj.) Resentful or annoyed, typically as the result of a perceived insult.
I feel like we are all a part of a new generation called Generation Offended. Looking back on 2015 it seemed to be one giant blur of keyboard warriors running to the Facebook battlefield, people filing court proceedings left, right and centre and a year where we seemed to have forgotten others and only thought about self. It was all just really messy.
The more society kept preaching, “You do you boo-boo” the more society seemed to get offended. The more the notion of “do what makes you happy and stuff what others think/feel” was encouraged the more that exact same notion couldn’t stand others doing what made them happy because others doing what makes them happy is offensive.
Talk about preaching tolerance but practicing intolerance…
Confession: I did it too.
Having reflected on 2015, I wanted to make the conscious decision to leave offence behind in 2015 but it seemed to be that “thorn in my side” that Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 12 and I dragged it into the new year with me. So, I decided it was time for me to do a little soul searching; now, this isn’t a post about “let us all just get along, bake cakes and be happy” so just walk with me for a moment.
I realised that offence is the greatest deterrent to loving one another; I can hardly keep my eyes from rolling when I’m offended let alone pretend to like someone at that moment.
The word ‘offended’ is described as being resentful as a result of a perceived insult; let’s break that down for a moment.
Resentful (adj.) Feeling or expressing bitterness.
Perceive (v.) Interpreting something or someone in a particular way.
To me, Job puts it so well in Job 21:25 (NIV) –
Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good.
OFFENCE IS THE GREATEST DETERRENT
TO LOVING ONE ANOTHER
I think it’s safe to say that bitterness is soul destroying and perception is how you personally viewed the event, whether your version of events is what was intended or not. You might ask, “Well what does this have to do with love? I can love other people just fine.” Yes, that may be true but are you willing to love someone in spite of offence?
I mean, Jesus lays down the law in Matthew 5:46 saying, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” It is easy to love people that are loveable, it’s completely irritating having to love someone that rubs you up the wrong way or someone that has offended you but it’s what we are all called to do. #lawyered
The Apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” I really hope that eye-rolling and sass is included in that multitude because this girl needs it! #strugglestreet
Peter talks about loving each other deeply, right? Just quietly, love is not about me and what I can gain from it but about others and what I can sacrifice for it; that nugget of wisdom is free.
Like you, I have dealt with my fair share of offence. Some I dealt with really well, others I dealt with the same way that Britney Spears dealt with 2007. Proverbs 18:19 says, “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city…” Boomtown. The way I see it, offence is like a cancer; it starts off small in one specific area then violently spreads to other areas of your life and is severely painful.
It starts off as a small jab then ends up building your walls to be a C-Max prison. That was just never God’s design for us to live our lives. You might argue, “But Ashleigh, so-and-so did such and such. I don’t know if I can look past it!” I’m so sorry for your hurt, I truly am. I’m sorry for the pain you’ve had to bare and I just want you to know that I get it. I totally get it, but I’m here to tell you that the freedom that lies of the other side of forgiveness is far greater than any offence that you’ve walked through.
How do I know this? Because I’ve been there.
Let’s not minimise the pain that comes from offence but let’s not blow it out of proportion either. I am passionate about loving people and learning to love them better; I fail miserably but I know that with each step I take I’m learning, growing and getting better at it. Not only are we called to love others, how much better do you feel within yourself when you love on people?
In the pursuit of loving others, could we be a generation that walks in the scandalous freedom of forgiveness and impact our world for the better? Offence isn’t easy to deal with but when you do, you’ll be the better for it and that’s my promise to you.
Rest in knowing that He sees what you’re walking through, I know what you’re walking through and you’re not alone; you’re doing better than you think you are.