Have you ever been offended by someone and then overreacted?!
Has someone ever gotten on your very last nerve … and then you have let this incompetent person know about their thoughtless behavior with sharp words or with a cold attitude?
How do you handle daily offenses?
Now … I am not talking about abuse. I am not referring to ongoing selfish behavior or obvious cruelty. Those types of behavior are in a completely different category.
I am just talking about people’s honest oversights … or their minor inconsistencies … or the fact that you disagree with the way something was handled.
What do you do when the toes of your heart are stepped upon by someone in your family … or in your circle of friends … or at work?
What do you do?
Often the offended one will retreat emotionally at moments like this. This confused and slightly hurt person might withdraw from conversation or from daily contact … somehow believing that the offender “has it out for me”. It is far too easy to pile heaps of blame on an innocent human being just because the way that they handle life situations might be a shade different than the way you would choose to handle it.
“But encourage one another day after day while it is still called today so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:13
Another common response when one has been offended is to talk about the presumed guilty person to others. What is it about spouting off that makes me feel better?!
What is it about spouting off that actually makes the situation worse?!
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29
And the third response is to violently spew verbal vomit all over the person who caused the minor infraction. This magnified reaction may include raising your voice … saying unkind words … even casting blame.
Who is the guilty one now?
A simple oversight has escalated into World War III, not because of the initial and innocent behavior but because of the brutal reaction. The harsh and emotional boomerang is threatening future peace between 2 people who were former allies and comrades.
“So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, these things out not to be this way!” – James 3:5&6, 8 – 10.
What I must realize when dealing with daily offense, minor disagreements and thoughtless behavior are three powerful truths:
1 – The world doesn’t revolve around me. People do not exist to make me happy or to make my life easier. I am here to serve and I must respond in a humble and Christ-like manner.
If someone sends me a difficult e-mail, I can bless the sender both emotionally and verbally. I can!
If someone overlooks my input, I can cheerfully agree and warmly embrace the person with encouragement and friendship. I can!
If someone is cool or judgmental with me, I can respond with heartfelt love and with tangible blessing. I can!
2 – Everyone is having a hard day so give the offender the benefit of the doubt.
Sometimes, when a person reacts in an unkind or fractious manner, it is because something else is happening in another part of his or her life. Perhaps what this simmering, nearly boiling, person needs is a listening ear and the simple yet precious gift of time spent together.
Look beyond the unnecessary reaction that you have received and the hurtful stain that has splashed upon your life into the heart of the individual. Everyone is fighting a battle and my heart’s desire is to hold up their arms … not to take them out at the knees.
I can give love … I can offer time … and I can pray prayers even for those who have created a chasm in friendship. I can!
3 – Before a word comes out of your mouth … before a grumble arises from deep within … before a relationship is mortally wounded … ask yourself this powerful but simple question, “What would Jesus do?”
Would Jesus blame … or would Jesus bless?
Would Jesus react … or would Jesus respond?
Would Jesus gossip … or would Jesus give a good report?
Would Jesus walk away … or would Jesus embrace?
There will always be situations and events in life that are difficult to understand and nearly impossible to process with our natural minds … that’s why we have the Bible as our Guidebook for behavior.
The cry of my heart is this, “Lord! Less of me and more of you!”
The boundaries for my tongue are found in these words from THE Word, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.” – I Peter 3:10
God gave me a tongue so that I would be a blessing not a judge.
God gave me a heart so that I would be a friend and not a foe.
God gave me life so that I would demonstrate all that He is … especially in difficult situations.