A New Way to Act When Offended
"… And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2 Corinthians 2:10b-11 (NIV)
I called my sister expecting her normal cheerful voice. Instead, I got a flat, "Hello."
My first reaction was concern. After all, she would have known it was me. Something was definitely wrong.
"Hey, sis, what’s up?" I asked.
"Nothing," she replied. "I just can’t talk right now."
We ended our call quickly, but as I set down my phone, my initial concern turned to another kind of worry. If there wasn’t something else amiss, maybe she was mad at me. What had I done wrong?
Normally, I would have accepted her reply at face value. After all, sometimes I’m busy and can’t talk. But earlier that day, another friend ended our conversation abruptly. So when it happened again, I figured the problem was me. I started to replay our past discussions in my mind, looking for something I might have said or done to offend both of these women so dear to me.
Rather than see those as two completely independent situations, I connected them and arrived at an erroneous conclusion. It was like Satan took a Sharpie marker and drew a straight line right from one to the other and then to a very vulnerable place in my heart. Ridiculous thoughts jumped into my mind: They don’t like me anymore. If they are going to get mad at me for nothing, then I’m just going to ignore them. If they want to talk to me, they can call.
I sat in my self-righteous, offended state and stewed.
After a while, perspective returned. It was clear I’d taken two separate situations that had nothing to do with me, and turned them into a reason to take offense. It was really rather self-centered, and showed a lack of love for my sister and friend.
Rather than think the best, and acknowledge I didn’t know the whole situation in either case, I let my mind go to a defensive, unloving place. I became judge and jury and declared them guilty.
The same thing happened to the Apostle Paul when he chose to write a letter to the believers at Corinth rather than visit personally. Paul had intended to journey to those believers, but after a difficult first visit, Paul changed his plans. Paul didn’t want to inflict more pain on the members of the church or himself. But rather than think the best and trust in Paul’s love for them, the Corinthians assumed Paul’s change was due to selfish reasons.
Our key verse is part of that letter. I find it interesting that one of the first key pieces of instruction in the letter included direction on how to restore a fellow believer who had done wrong. Paul urges the believers at Corinth to forgive this man. Yet I wonder if Paul wrote this direction thinking of their offense at his choice.
Paul wrote: "… And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:10b-11).
Paul knew that holding on to offenses was dangerous. It was, and is, a scheme of Satan to separate and destroy relationships. Rather than take offense, Paul encouraged the believers to forgive. And in verse 8, Paul gives these clear instructions … a new way to deal with offense, "I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him."
That day when two conversations were cut short, Satan tried to connect the dots and convince me I had a reason to be offended. But God’s Word shed light on that scheme and told me to do the opposite. Rather than embrace offense, I needed to reaffirm love.
Later that day, I sent my sister and friend loving text messages. I got two in return.
The next time Satan tries to connect the dots, I need to remember his schemes, and refuse to play that game. Rather than jump to conclusions that could harm a relationship, I need to look for ways to reaffirm love.
Heavenly Father, thank You for modeling love when offended. Help me choose to reaffirm love when I want to retreat in the face of offense. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 5:8, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (NIV)
1 Peter 3:9, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (NIV)
Do you speak when you should stay silent? Karen Ehman’s newest book, Keep it Shut, will help you know what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all. Our newest Online Bible Study of this book starts this week and there's still time to join us!
Join Glynnis Whitwer on her blog today for a list of Scriptures to use when you need to get perspective and a giveaway of Keep it Shut.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Why is it easy to jump to conclusions rather than think the best of others?
Think of a situation recently where you have been offended. What do you regret doing? What could you have done differently?