Gathering at the table to discuss plans for a future endeavor with my brothers and sisters in Christ, I recently was struck by my inner reaction when one of these dear ones disagreed with what I thought was quite a reasonable perspective on my part. I was offended.
I’m a pretty agreeable person (by my definition of agreeable). And I really like when those surrounding me agree with me equally. So when the unexpected happens and I’m at an impasse concerning decisions that others make that are NOT agreeable with mine, I’m learning to evaluate my reactions and think before I speak. And that is not easy for this loquacious female!
And sometimes I have to be OK with just not getting my way.
It feels like we’ve become a culture of whiners. Maybe the “Have It YOUR Way” jingle plays a loop in our heads, causing us to feel entitled to whatever our whim currently calls us to. Humbly taking a step back is unheard of. The mere suggestion that we let someone finish their sentence before commenting and to hear them out causes us to bristle. When we don’t get our way, we complain, grumble, gossip, and sometimes act out violently.
But that’s not the Jesus way.
I could list all the scriptures that encourage us to be not offended, but that would take up way more space than is allowed in this blog. But let’s be reasonable here and think this thing through. Is it a desirable trait for a follower of Jesus to demand his or her own way? Are we living for what’s best for us alone? And what exactly is our need to have it our way? Is it because of deep insecurities and rejection issues…and are we STILL trying to prove ourselves to all rather than get the healing that is available through Jesus? I’ve had to painfully ask myself these questions and more…and answer honestly before my God.
This one scripture can be painful to observe, no less carry out. But as all the Proverbs do, there is an abundance of wisdom here:
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.-Proverbs 19:11
WHOAH! Patience, wisdom, and glory are equated with overlooking an offense! I want to be known as someone who is patient (a fruit of the Spirit), wise (like Jesus), and able to bask in the glory of humbly laying my weapons down. I know it’s hard…As soon as we make the decision to live at peace, to not live in offense, to lay it down…it seems the enemy comes along and throws a grenade in our plan! Then he taunts us (usually through those closest to us) and stirs up all those fighting words within us, and he reminds us how incredibly unfair this is and how we need to take a stance and fight for what we want, and be right, and…well, you get the point. Oh, you’ve been there, too? So the battle begins.
But what if we were “wise to his schemes”? What if we allowed our God to fight our battle through prayer and peace? What if the “Let It Go” mantra, sung with determination by Elsa, gave us the direction in which to actually let that thing go to?! And what if we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our God fights for us, and that He is safe, and that He is for us, and that HE is the One who can carry whatever it is that we let go of and make it all right, and that we don’t have to always have our way in order to live a joy-filled life?! (I know, that was a super run-on sentence I make no excuses for!)
So, precious brothers and sisters, we have a choice to make. We can live in constant tension, having our antennae raised and radar detection tweaked, awaiting the non-suspecting soul to offend us so we can quickly retort and disconfirm whatever it is they have to say. OR, we can weigh the opposition, listen with heart, and choose a non-offensive stance, asking Holy Spirit to speak through us before we utter even one word.
We are commanded to “pursue peace”, “strive for peace”, “follow peace” (Heb. 12:14) even when the culture around us feels like a war zone, and even when the internal temperature in the church seems oddly cool toward the pure gospel message.
I’m choosing disarmament in order to offer an olive branch to those who offend me. Peace will not come naturally as it is a supernatural gift from God. But I’m believing fully that though those offensive bullets may fly towards me, God remains my shield, my peace, and my victory.