I remember it clearly. I was around 15 years old. I called my best friend to invite her to my house for a sleepover on the coming Friday night. She told me she wouldn’t make it because of a family function. Friday night came and I called my best friend to chat and to reschedule our sleep-over. But what I heard in the background wasn’t a family function… it was the voice of another girl in our class. Ouch. My friend was at a sleep-over with another friend and I was left feeling very hurt and offended. We eventually worked it out, but it’s funny how things like that stick with you.
Many other similar situations have occurred since being a teenager, but now as an adult I have a clearer understanding of relationships, expectations and communication. However, even having this experience-based knowledge doesn’t change the hurt feelings we sometimes experience when we’re in relationship with others. Friendship relationships, family relationships, marital relationships…at the office, church, the grocery store, the drive-thru, the little league bleachers, the soccer field, the neighborhood picnic, whatever and wherever, there’s always a chance and an opportunity for us to be offended by something someone does or says…or maybe it’s an attitude, a tone of voice, a failed expectation or an eye roll. Or it could be an unanswered text message, an email that never got responded to, the phone call that you never received, or the snarky comment from your spouse.
All of these things and more can lead to hurt feelings and being offended. Why is that? Is it because we are so focused on ourselves and what we think we deserve that we throw grace, forgiveness and love out the window? Do we forget God’s unending, never-failing love, grace and forgiveness towards US? Is it just plain easier to be offended versus offering grace and being Jesus-like towards those who hurt us, even in the midst of our anger and pain? I’m guilty of this! I have a good memory of offenses and a reel in my mind that likes to re-play the hurt over and over and over again. But is that what God wants for us? To re-play the offense until we’re angry and hurt all over again? I don’t think so. In fact, the Bible tells us very clearly in Proverbs 19:11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger. It is his glory to overlook an offense. To one’s glory to overlook an offense! According to Merriam-Webster online overlook means “to fail to see or notice (something)” or “to pay no attention to (something)”. I don’t know about you, but that seems really hard to do! And I’m not so good at it sometimes!
What happens when we harbor those feelings of bitterness, anger & resentment? When we hold on to offenses and let them replay in our memories? A seed of bitterness grows in our hearts…if let unchecked, and un-prayed about, it can turn into something really ugly. Take a look at Hebrews 12:15…Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Corrupting many! Not just our own selves, but many! Our children maybe? Our spouse? Our friendships?
Overlooking an offense is hard…in fact, it’s really hard. It’s pretty impossible without the love and grace God extends to us so that we may extend it to others. We’re told to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace… (Hebrews 11:6). When we go boldly to our God we find grace & mercy! This allows us to be merciful towards others. Grace. Mercy. Peace. These are good things given to us by a good God. I’d much rather have these growing in my heart than a bitter seed or a poisonous root!
God’s Word tells us over and over to pursue peace… with all men. Not just the ones who don’t offend us. This is where we grow. This is where we can be more like Jesus. It’s part of “taking up our cross” daily (Luke 9:23).
Today, let’s choose grace, peace, love & mercy. Let’s offer it freely, especially to those we share our lives with. Let’s offer it to the single mom working the fast-food lane… let’s offer it to our spouse after a long day at work… let’s offer it to a family member who made a thoughtless comment at the family get-together… let’s offer it to the friend who hasn’t returned the phone call or email yet…let’s offer it to the co-worker who isn’t being so nice…Let’s make a choice not to be emotion-led but rather Spirit-led. And to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Roman’s 14:19).