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November 14, 2017

Don’t Be Too Easily Offended

By Annie Garman

I was extremely hurt.

The pain in my heart woke me at 4:00 a.m. It wasn’t heartburn or any other physical problem. It was words; painful words that kept ricocheting around in my head and tormenting me.

Eventually I decided to get up and read my Bible to hear something new. In my Bible reading plan, I was on Proverbs 19.

Verse 11 peeked my interest. “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

How can you possibly overlook—look over—an offense when it towers tall?

This was the question I was crying out to God before the birds even began their song.

At first, I was only met with silence and the darkness of the room. But then, almost immediately, a strong picture filled my mind. I envisioned myself climbing a steep mountain so that I could look over the high wall of offense. I imagined a difficult climb involving blood, sweat, and tears. But then, arriving at the top, I was able to see the full landscape. Not just the offense, but I saw the big picture. Huh … maybe that offense wasn’t so tall after all. These words aren’t the whole story. I can see more of the context now, more of what surrounded those words.

I don’t think I’ve cornered the market here on overcoming offenses, but perhaps a few observations could help you not be so easily offended.

First, climb. Fight for a new perspective. Looking over something tall requires moving your position and perspective. Fight your sin nature that only wants to wallow in self-pity.

And, while you’re up there admiring the view, turn your head around enough to see the whole picture. Included in that picture is you, full of your sin and the damage that it has also done. Time to get the log out of your own eye and realize you do similar things like whatever was done to you. “We all struggle in many ways” (James 3:2). Humble yourself to the same level as the person who offended you. Don’t let your self-righteousness deceive you into thinking you are better. Looking at your own sin will give you grace for theirs.

Now, of course, not all offenses are created equal.* Some are legitimately taller than others. But, there are also times when the offense feels taller than it actually is because we are self-absorbed and more focused on our feelings than the feelings of others. Or maybe that’s just me. As Ken Sande notes in The Peacemaker, “Overlooking an offense is a form of forgiveness and involves a deliberate decision not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness or anger.”

Second, look to Jesus. The truth is we have offended Jesus to the core. Jesus had to climb the hill to look over our offenses. Only His hill included a crucifixion. And actual blood, sweat, and tears.

 If Jesus can look over our offenses that tower past the clouds, surely we can overlook the faults of others. Bring your weakness of being easily offended to Christ and let Him show off His strength in the midst of it.

*I don’t want to minimize abusive situations or even situations where someone does, in fact, need correction. Knowing what things to overlook and what things to confront can be ambiguous. This post is mostly concerned about being easily offended.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Annie Garman

Annie B. Garman is a pastor’s wife and mother to four excitable girls, and author of Unexpected Grace: When Your Child is Born With Half a Heart. She and her family serve at Pillar Church in Northern Virginia where the traffic is thick, but the church planting opportunities abound. Their network of churches is attempting to plant a reproducible gospel-centered church at every Marine Corps base around the world (praetorianproject.org). Her biggest passion is to know Christ and make Him known in whatever situation she finds herself in. Annie shares her thoughts on motherhood, mayhem, and the meaning of life at anniebgarman.com.

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