Offense… It’s that comment that your friend said (without thinking and usually innocent enough) that you didn’t appreciate. Maybe it’s that correction that you felt was unjustified because you had a good reason. Or it can be that discussion on a topic that had a basis in truth that someone had the “audacity” to mention that hit a nerve. Either way, the result is the same: you were offended. You took exception to what was said for a variety of reasons, and now you have to deal with the emotions associated with it.
For some of us, we utter an angry retort. Others may choose to get defensive or go on the attack. Depending on the relationship or our personality, many of us choose to do nothing more than seethe inwardly at the offending party. The offending party is usually none the wiser of the offense… but in our heads, they should be! Furthermore, they should be sorry that they caused the offense in the first place! We then vow in our heads to make them subtly aware that what they said miffed us. That will show them!
You may be chuckling softly to yourself, but it is true, we can become offended at just about anything and at anyone. So how do you deal with it in a biblical context?
Well, let’s examine the scenarios:
Uttering an angry retort: Definitely let’s the other person know that what they said was unacceptable, and we don’t carry over any unresolved anger… per say, depending on how the conversation goes. The situation may be resolved, but it does have the potential to escallate as well. The other person’s feelings may get hurt as what comes out of our mouths will generally be angry, and we may react without thinking.
Scripturally: The sun may not go down on your anger (assuming that there is a resolution), but would God approve of your attitude in communicating your feelings?
Becoming Defensive or Going on the Attack: Again, angry words and actions are flying. Verbal abuse may be going on. The reality is that we are verbally attacking someone while generating a defense for our actions. We are justifying why we did what we did. While explaining our actions isn’t all that bad, if it is not for the purpose of understanding and for equal communication, it is counter productive. Nothing good will come out of it, and no one likes to be yelled at.
Scripturally: Wrong. So wrong.
No Angry Words, Just Inward Seething: Probably almost the worst of all scenarios, in some ways. You can choose to walk away if your purpose is to gather your thoughts and to prevent yourself from uttering something that you will regret later. Then walking away is a useful tool. However, if you are walking away and choosing not to deal with the issue, then it is more destructive in many ways.
The offending party is oblivious to why you are mad at them. If they are wrong or said something in error, they can’t apologize, accept responsibility, or even open a dialogue with you. There is no communication or understanding. If your actions do indeed prove that you are angry at them, they may not know why you are being emotionally distant. How many of us have had a conversation that begins like this:
“Are you mad at me?”
“No. Why would I be mad at you?”
“You seem to be distant and angry. You are hardly talking to me, and you seem upset. Are you sure you aren’t mad at me?”
“No, I’m not mad at you.”
But you are!
You have cut someone off from open communication, and from any meaningful dialogue. The situation will not become resolved, and you aren’t moving on. You are carrying that offense, and can for years!
Our February issue will deal with the topic of offense, and how to biblically deal with it. We will identify the causes for offense, and the remedy for the situation leading into a resolution.
Our next issue is released January 26, 2017.
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