FB Post, September 12, 2017
The following is a tough subject to tackle, but here goes.
We Christians have a two fold problem. First, we need to be careful what we say and how we say it. Insensitivity to a persons feelings, position in life, recent losses, race, marital status, personal history, personal social or political burdens, or personal business in general, can often be triggers for hurt and rejection that are either hidden deeply in the offendeds' heart or located just below the surface. Either way, such insensitivities are often lightening rods used to unleash those feelings. Most of the time, "common sense" rules regarding what to say or how to say it; but often, one person's common sense is another's stumbling block. But, we should have a common understanding and common wisdom about human nature that reminds us certain off-the-cuff comments, or supposed light-hearted words, may not really be that light-hearted to everyone; and you never know who will be offended, or how a person will react. The Holy Spirit will help us with that needed discernment if we ask, and if we are "walking in the Spirit," which we should be but in reality, are not always. And if or when an offense does occur, a sincere apology should immediately follow. The offender should not now become the #2 offended because the #1 offended became upset. Follow that?
On the other hand, and there is always "the other hand," (this is the second part of our problem) we sometimes become too offended by something someone says or does in innocence or ignorance, and we respond out of anger and hurt. I can remember a situation that happened to me many, many years ago, when I was a unsaved teenager. I was still living at home with my mom and dad, and of course we had a "landline." The phone rang several times, and each time, there was a hang up. Well, at the time, that was an "offense" to me, and the next time it happened, I really gave it to them! "Don't you ever call here again, who do you think you are??!!, blah, blah, blah". When I stopped yelling, a few seconds of awkward silence ensued, and a woman's very soft and gentle voice came on that said, "I only wanted to speak to your mom." Needless to say, I was humiliated and felt horrible. That dear woman had every right to blast me right back. But, she didn't. I was so wrong in offending her, and she was so right in how she handled it.
So, if legitimately offended, what does the Word say to do? To paraphrase, it says to try to work it out. Talk to the person. Get clarity. Get understanding. Try to resolve the issues. Most times, this works. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.
I often encourage the offended to consider the source of the offense. Who, how, why questions are important. Replaying assumed facts in one's mind never brings anything positive. Assumptions and unwarranted opinions are often our worst enemies.
Here are some scriptures to consider in this discussion:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17 NKJV
"Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone."
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit....to another discerning of spirits" 1 Corinthians 12:4,10c NKJV
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Galations 5:16-17 NKJV
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 NKJV
Let's try our best to live in peace with one another. Remember Calvary and the Cross of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice should make a difference, not only how we act toward the Lord, but how we act toward one another as well.
"He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed"