It seems like everyone is getting offended these days. Everywhere you look, someone is offended because someone said something about someone. People are made to make empty apologies on social media because of the backlash from the masses. Even waves of Christians get offended because a coffee company takes Christmas trees off their cups. It’s everywhere.
The truth of the matter is, for the most part, people can’t be offended. Sounds like a statement made by a loon, but many times it’s the “loons” that make sense because no one else will take the time to look at the situation. Now there are exceptions…I did say “for the most part.”
You can offend your spouse. You can offend somebody when you intentionally go out of your way to offend them. And you can offend God. That covers the three basic groups of people you can offend and there’s a reason for each of them.
Offending someone because you intentionally (or even maliciously) intend to offend them is probably the most common thing we see in pop culture. With people’s heart so full of disdain for this train of thought or this belief, it shouldn’t be surprising. To think that someone wouldn’t be upset because another person believes that their beliefs (that define who they are) are considered a sin is hard to believe. To think people wouldn’t intentionally offend someone because they’re on opposite sides of the blue and red aisle is just ignorance- or stupidity. However, for a Christian to intentionally offend someone would mean that they’re not living their life according to the Bible.
Imagine, because I know you wouldn’t do such a thing, that you were to maliciously try to hurt someone – either physically, mentally, emotionally, or however. You wouldn’t do such a thing. You wouldn’t do it because you wouldn’t want to hurt them. You wouldn’t want to put anything in-between them and God. You wouldn’t do it because you always try to walk in love to everyone. After all, Jesus said in Luke 17:2, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”
But what about getting offended?
Getting offended comes because of an expectation. We have an expectation that someone should be acting or saying or doing something in a specific manner. When we try to put that expectation on somebody, we do an injustice and a disservice to them, ourselves, and society. You can’t or shouldn’t expect anyone to act a way that is not in accordance with their character, who they are, or inline with a history of their behavior. There should be no way that anyone would be offended by the behavior of a copperhead snake, a KKK member, or a terrorist. There’s nothing in their character, the history of their behavior, or who they are that would give anyone the slightest idea or belief that they would act, think, and say things that are pleasant, cordial, or nice.
The only way that we can truly be offended by somebody, is if we have a valid expectation for them not to offend us.
Where do expectations come from?
Usually they come from the culture around us. That would include people, the media, or movies that we’ve seen. When a little girl grows up and gets married, it’s possible for her to have an expectation that her marriage will be happily ever after. She shouldn’t, but it is a possibility. She has this expectation because it has been developed in her thanks to the media and culture that she has consumed. And she sees these things as a valid source of truth.
Yes, she might have seen other things, heard other things, experienced other things – but she can still have this little glimmer of hope – this expectation – thanks to Disney. Not just Disney though. She can also thank the Hallmark Channel and romance novels. I’m not saying this is the majority of women. In fact, it’s probably a small minority. But it can still happen, especially if she is young and ignorant of most of the world around her.
She doesn’t look at her spouse or herself to get the idea of what marriage, her marriage should be like. But rather she looks at things that she has seen or heard and the beliefs and opinions that she has developed in her self thanks to the things that she has consumed. This is incorrect.
When a Christian gets married they too may have expectations of what their marriage should be like. These expectations can be drawn from what the Word of God says about marriage. The Word says that in marriage, you should be selfless, self-sacrificing, loving, etc. Now if we take our expectation and base it completely and solely on the Word of God, we again do a disservice to ourselves, our spouse, and everyone around us.
The Word of God is the outline or blueprint of what an ideal marriage should be. It gives us the guidelines of what we should do to have a good and godly marriage. But again, if we base our expectations solely on the Word of God, we have misplaced our expectations. And then we can easily be offended.
When you enter into a marriage, you’re not getting married to God. So all these expectations that are solely based on the Word of God – you can’t hope for them to be accurate 100% of the time. You’re getting married to another person. That other person is human. They have flaws. They have a personality. They have character traits. They have been molded and formed by culture, their parents and friends and relatives, and hopefully God. And so all those things are needed to be taken into consideration when having an expectation.
You also have to consider the fact that you yourself have been brought up in a culture, with media, other people, friends and family, and parents who were brought up likewise. All this stuff goes into a marriage. All this stuff plays a part in expectations.
When a Christian gets married, they make a covenant with each other to try to do their best to live according to the Word of God, and to do certain things, whatever they say in their covenant vows. They say words like, I promise to… Those vows in turn, give their spouse an expectation of what they can expect. When those vows are not lived up to, it creates an opportunity for offense to come in. When offense comes in, unforgiveness can come in as well. Because there were some grounds for realistic expectations, there is a valid ground for someone to be offended.
This is why we should walk in love, walk in forgiveness, and realize that everyone is human – including our spouse and ourselves. And the more that we walk in love, the more we destroy the opportunity for offense to arise in our life and relationships. Even though we have a right and reasonable ground to be offended, it’s better for everyone if we’re not.
And when we don’t have those reasonable grounds, we have an unrealistic expectation. So for someone to say that they are offended by something that someone has said or done, and if they really mean it, then they have bought into a lie.
Somewhere they have gotten the idea that society as a whole, or individual people, should say things and do things a specific way. This idea has been taken into themselves and created an opinion, attitude, and belief. Most of the time, if not all the time, this idea of how people should act finds its roots in the devil. Yes, they might have gotten it from society, but it was the devil behind those ideas that society perpetuated.
So when someone gets upset and gets offended because someone else didn’t say or do something that they believed they should do, or they don’t like – they lash out at the person that they believe caused the offense. Maybe someone said something that didn’t line up with that person’s beliefs and they were offended. Yet they have no grounds to believe that the individual in question would or should say something that agrees with their beliefs. They may believe the rest of the world agrees with them, or their opinion is the right opinion and everyone else who disagrees is wrong. But none of these opinions or thoughts can find their ground in truth. If what they believe is truth, then they would or should have the soundness of mind to understand that not everyone sees eye to eye, no matter what the subject is.
In reality, the person that is offended should be upset at either the person or entity that gave them this false idea of how people should act and talk, or they should get upset at themselves for believing a lie about how people should talk or act. In no way, should they have any kind of valid belief, that is grounded in truth or reason, to think that the entire world (and people in general) should say and act exactly how they think they should. They are not God. Yet they have believed the lie that says that they are God and people should act and talk exactly how they think they should.
On the other hand, God is God.
Imagine if you were building a bookshelf, a cabinet or some kind of invention. Imagine if you were putting together a computer. And you designed every single piece, you created every part of it from scratch. And you had this plan and the designs for something and how it should be put together and how it should work. And once you have put it together – it does not function and operate exactly how you designed it to work, function, and operate. You would have a valid complaint for it to be operating the way that it did – the incorrect way. You would have a valid reason to be offended. Because there was an expectation that the invention should operate the exact way that you designed it. Wouldn’t you get upset if you put together a desk, a bookshelf, a baby crib, a computer – and it didn’t work like it should – especially if you designed every piece of it and followed all the instructions to the letter.
Now think of things from God‘s perspective. He created humanity, gave them life, breath, the abilities, talents, wisdom, and everything under the sun to live, survive, and thrive. And then humanity turns its back on you and does whatever it wants, including cursing your name and doing the exact opposite of what you designed them to do. You would have grounds to be offended. That is how we give offense to God. There is a valid belief that things (humanity) should operate how you created it (them) to do so.
Think of this scenario – you’re going to meet a good friend for lunch, and you both agree that you’re going to meet at this specific restaurant at a specific time. You get there five minutes before, because if you’re not early you’re late. When the time comes that you’re supposed to meet they aren’t there. You give them five minutes because traffic, and they’re still not there. So you give them a call, and they tell you that they are on their way. You think nothing of it, continue to scroll through your phone, and after another five or 10 minutes you decide to call them back. You get the same response – “I’m on my way.” And then after another five or 10 minutes you call them one last time, and they pick up and tell you that they’re not coming, with no explanation, no reason. It’s not traffic, it’s not a cataclysmic issue that has arisen in their life. They just decided they didn’t want to come, and didn’t bother to tell you, and on top of that – lying to you. Because there was an expectation of an agreed-upon understanding, you have a valid ground to be offended.
Of course that doesn’t mean you need to be offended. That doesn’t mean it would be wise for you to take on that offense. But you do have a valid ground for it.
Imagine the same situation, but they actually do finally show up, and they’re apologetic about it, and said things came up that they just couldn’t get away from and then traffic was bad. You still have grounds to be offended. Because again, there was an agreed-upon understanding of when things should take place.
There is such a thing as grace and mercy and forgiveness. We have to understand that things do happen in people’s lives. There are things beyond people’s control. And when those things arise, we can’t hold people to the original agreed-upon understanding. If you say that you have valid grounds to be offended, you need to check up on yourself. Something is wrong with you. You need to get your heart right, your motives right, and your character right.
We also need to understand just because we have valid grounds to be offended, that there is some kind of reasonable expectation of what people should do, that doesn’t mean that we should be offended. Unless you’re God, there comes a price for being offended. When we are offended, it’s pretty close to unforgiveness sneaking into our heart. And with unforgiveness comes lots of other stuff that we would be wise to stay far away from. Our health is put at risk for one. Science has proven that to be true – long after the Bible told us so. If you’re a Christian, you cut yourself off from the blessings of God, your prayers aren’t being answered, and you are unable to walk in that close fellowship with God because that offense and unforgiveness is there.
There’s a lot of other things that happen when we allow offense to get into our lives. So it doesn’t matter if your offense has validity to it or not. It’s just not wise to get offended. Instead, walk in love. Walk in forgiveness. Do what Jesus desires us to do and what the Bible tells us to do. And be blessed.