Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Offended and The Offender

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” – Proverbs 10:12 

There are times when we were left in our thoughts wondering,  “Why would she say such a thing to me?” or  “Who does he think he is to tell me what to do?” it could also be, “I never thought I would hear those words from her.”

There are also the things that people do that hurt us.  You maybe annoyed how you are treated inferior compared to others.  Or you may feel that you’re being judged with the way you do things, or the way you speak or dress...  or basically, you are criticized just the way you are.

Clearly, you are the one offended.

How about when you are in the opposite shoe?  You can’t sleep or can’t stop thinking about the thing you’ve said or done the other day because…

You told your new neighbor how messy their backyard is and gave them some do’s and don’ts instructions right there and then.  Or you made this impulsive reaction “I hope you’ll not so regret this…” to an excited friend who had just announced she is getting married soon.  Maybe, just maybe, you could’ve also made an overboard comment on how one should bring up his/her child or how one should chew his food in front of a crowd, a comment enough to embarrass him/her.

Could it be you have offended somebody?

The question holds, what you should do, or on the other side of the coin, what you could’ve done? 

Little offenses become big when it sank deep into ones heart.  When the offended thinks about how mean and conceited that other person is.  And while the offender does not know how to make up to his guilty conscience, he is trapped with paranoia and condemnation. 

I believe not all who offends really mean it that way.  It is usually out of concern or honesty that a comment is dropped.  It could also be out of ignorance, or the way a person always been when one does something offensive.  However as believers in Christ, we must be alert and conscious of what others may feel.  The Bible says, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other (Galatians 5:25-26)”.  Proverbs 17: 9 gives us a warning too “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats the matter separate close friends.”  If we had offended somebody and realized it, then it’s time to make amends of our attitude.  There must be an effort to change hearts and a willingness to compensate of the damage done.

There are also a number of situations that the offended quite reacts a little more than they should.  It could be because of an overly sensitive personality.  We should try to analyze scenarios first before we react.  Holding one’s response and thinking about it twice or thrice before we deal with it makes a lot of difference.

When it comes to being hurt, the Bible says a lot about it.  Colossians 3:13-14 tells us to “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”  1 Thessalonians 5 reminds us as well to “… be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”

It is always easy to speak and get motivated with all these when you’re not in the picture.  Then again, putting into our hearts the love and grace that God gave us when we were sinners [not to mention the fact that time and again we fail Him] is more than enough to give love and understanding to other people especially at their weakest.    “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.  And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:20-21)

The bottom line of the story is that, it does not really matter who is the Offended or the Offender.  It is how we heal these inevitable situations when self-control is our first aid.  It is how we grasp the idea of “brotherhood” despite disagreements and mistakes and ignorance and insensitivities.  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:9-10).”  Unbelievable verses, aren’t they?  I will reiterate to stress what Paul wants us to do as brothers “Outdo one another in showing honor…” now that’s one great challenge!

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