Just before I came to Christ, I didn’t much care if I offended another person. If they interfered with my goals or ambitions, look out. I didn’t care how carefully I talked when I was treated unkindly. Turn-about was fair play as far as I was concerned. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” I was so truthful I was brutally blunt. I remember challenging a Christian over lifestyle choices and know I was not the most diplomatic of people at the time. I rarely weighed my words. I did what I felt like doing.
After Christ, I changed. I began to care that I didn’t offend others with my words and actions. I considered the feelings of others even when I was hurt. I was careful with my words. I thought seriously about doing to others as I wanted others to do to me. I must have read 1 Corinthians 13 a hundred times and took it to heart that love was not rude, nor did it keep account of wrongs. It took work on my part to break some of my impulsive habits and to practice love that the Apostle Paul urged we practice in Chapter 14. But in time, the LORD worked in me and I know that my conscience began to be clearer and clearer. At the end of the day, there were fewer and fewer times I felt guilty.
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Acts 24:16
Since becoming a child of God, I pay more attention to how I speak to others…how I treat them. I find myself looking for more ways to encourage, than denigrate. To praise than criticize. To control my emotions than letting my emotions control me. The beauty in being a Christian is God shows us so much mercy and grace in our slips and stumbles. He cleanses us from all iniquity and has already paid the debt for our sinful nature.
With this in mind, it behooves me to show mercy and grace when another offends me. I usually get a bit more uptight when someone offends a friend or loved one of mine, than myself. But I have to bring all these feelings to God and recognize them for what they are. Pride. The how-dare-they attitude really has no place in the thought patterns of those who follow Jesus. After all…what did Jesus do when criticized, rejected, scorned, and mocked? He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Sadly, some folks today know exactly what they are doing when they say things to offend, when they do things to get a rise out of us, to incite others to anger. Some folks have no desire to be less offensive, or render mercy. But I can only control me and myself. I can only come to Jesus with my own weaknesses and flaws. Others must answer for themselves.
PRAYER: LORD, help us master the offensive nature we battle. Let us so fill ourselves with your grace that we pour out kindness, peace and love to others. Give us more of You, LORD. Let us so shine before man that we bring glory to You and You alone.