It is inevitable that offenses will come to us. Someone somewhere at some time will say or do something that will bother us. Perhaps they will be rude, speak evil of us, not appreciate our efforts or intentions, or worse, assign us evil motives when we really meant well. I am not a prophet or son of a prophet, but I can almost guarantee you that offenses will happen to you. This is especially true if you are in any sort of leadership position.
We have multiple options when someone hurts, wounds, disparages, or betrays us:
- We can seek revenge.
- We can attempt to protect our reputation.
- We can return evil for evil.
- We can tell everyone we know how badly we were treated.
- We can become defensive.
- We can become a martyr.
I’m sure there are other responses that would fit in this vein of reaction to being hurt. For the record, none of these are productive or Biblical.
There are a couple of other responses that I believe would be preferable to the list above. First, we can simply overlook the offense. What a novel concept in our instant communication, selfie posting world. We can let the hurt go realizing that we have hurt others by our words, actions, and inaction.
This is a Biblical response:
Proverbs 19:11 - Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
If we would really take a good, long look at our own lives, we would realize how often we have been less than perfect in our dealings with others. We do not have any stones to throw at anyone else for their failures.
We have said foolish things. We have been hurtful in our actions, words, slights, opinions, inclusion of others into our circles, and probably a host of other relational type sins. We have not been perfect and it is imperfect of us to expect perfection from other people. We can simply understand that everyone makes mistakes.
Even if the slight, hurt, wound was intentional, we can still overlook it. Proverbs states that it is to our glory to do so! We are commanded to love those that hurt us. Jesus went so far as to say we are to love our enemies and those that persecute us. We are never instructed to return evil for evil, but grace and a blessing instead.
The second response we can have in order not to waste an offense, is to learn from it. We can observe how we feel while in the midst of the pain and learn not to repeat the action that causes such wounds. If we were treated badly by someone? Let’s not do that to others. If we are excluded from the in-group, let’s reach out to others so they don’t experience the same pain. Did we enjoy being talked about behind our back? Let’s not do the same behind someone else’s.
We have the option to learn from the pain we are feeling. I am not denying that it hurts; simply that we have redemptive options of dealing with that hurt. We can overlook it realizing that we too have failed. And, we can learn not to do unto others what we hated being done to us. By implementing these two understandings into our lives, we can learn not to waste an offense through bitterness, anger, or self-pity.
I’m not saying it is easy to do, or even the only two options, but I am saying that these are something to prayerfully consider the next time we are offended.
Jeff Klick / Dr. Jeff Klick serves as the senior pastor of Hope Family Fellowship. In addition, he is an instructor with The Institute of Church Management and is on the board of The Council for Gospel Legacy Churches. Dr. Klick and his bride Leslie have been married more than 40 years and are blessed with three adult children and 10 grandchildren.