There are certain sins in our lives that get swept under the rug because they aren’t the big obvious ones like murder, stealing, or addictions. They become like pet sins, those sins that feel tame and safe to keep in our lives. Who are they harming? The pet sin that I think is wreaking havoc on our world today is being easily offendable.
- Do you curse the driver who clearly has never learned how to drive through a roundabout?
- Do you toss the book across the room of the author stepping on your toes?
- Do you silently seethe over the fact your friend forgot your birthday?
- Do you threaten to switch doctors because they recommended things you aren’t willing to do?
- Do you rehash all day why the cashier treated you rudely?
- Do you refuse to enjoy a meal because the waiter forgot to bring the sauce you requested for the fries that are now cold?
- Do you watch like a hawk to see if friends take their decorations down before epiphany just so you can go on a rant?
- Do you still tell everyone about the girl who wore white to your wedding?
- Do you take bumper stickers personally?
- Do you read the comments section of political posts?
- Do you hate follow anyone on social media just to be offended by their posts?
Did I hit a nerve? I’m guessing yes because truthfully, we’ve got so many nerves to hit these days! We have the potential to spend our lives completely annoyed and in the moment, they might seem really small, but it’s damaging our hearts and our lives far more than we realize. And the compound effect of holding on to multiple offenses may just be the obstacle standing in your way of experiencing all that God promised.
How is it possible to experience the abundant life God has given us–a life only possible through the cross–when we’re constantly trying to pry off the offense of others from said cross?
That might sound like a bold statement, but any sin we harbor, like the sin of unforgiveness, will affect our intimacy with the creator.
This topic of taking an offense has intrigued me for years. There’s a whole chapter on it in my book Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday. But today I wanted to share some things I’ve learned more recently about it that I hope will be encouraging. (If you haven’t read that chapter in Grumpy Mom, I highly recommend it! I wanted to copy and paste the whole thing into this post!)
1. Being easily offendable is an entitlement issue.
I love Brant Hansen’s definition of taking an offense or being offendable: “the very presumption that I’m somehow entitled to be angry with someone.”
When we walk into any situation, assuming that we are entitled to be angry with someone, we set ourselves up to constantly be offended. Why? Because everyone around us is unfortunately human instead of perfect. 😜 Being easily offendable assumes we should not have to deal with people being human and if we are, we’re shocked by people who do rude or unloving things.
2. Being easily offendable steals our joy.
Allowing someone else’s choices to determine our mood is essentially letting them steal our joy. We have joy, then they wrong us, and we make the assumption that we can’t be joyful anymore. We blame them. We get mad. We play the victim, which only fuels more and more anger, and who can honestly be joyful with all that stirring in our hearts? To think that some random commenter on social media can derail our whole day with a few taps of the keyboard is a big reality check for me. We give other people (people who love us, hate us, don’t know us, and everything in between) entirely too much authority over whether we’ll experience joy.
Eccl. 7:9 says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”
3. Being easily offendable gives the devil a foothold.
Taking an offense is sin and Scripture tells us over and over again not to do it. When we take offense, it naturally leads to other sins like pride, judgment, and even gossip.
Hebrews 12:14-15 says, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
4. Being easily offendable keeps us stuck in worldly places.
John Bevere says, “If you have given yourself totally to Jesus and are committed to His care, you cannot be offended because you are not your own.”
Woah. That’s so heavy, right? But having an eternal perspective on even seemingly small offenses would change everything for us. If we remember our success is not determined by what our company thinks of us, we don’t have to get offended when we get overlooked for a promotion. If we know that God has planned this day for us and we are right where we are supposed to be, we don’t have to get frustrated with the traffic.
It might sound like I’m over spiritualizing things, but maybe our ability to get easily offended speaks to how attached we are to the world.
1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
5. Being easily offended informs our future.
John Bevere shared a parable of old settlers that I think is relevant today.
“Back in the days when the settlers were moving to the West, a wise man stood on a hill outside a new Western town. As the settlers came from the East, the wise man was the first person they met before coming to the settlement. They asked eagerly what the people of the town were like.
He answered them with a question: “What were the people like in the town you just left?”
Some said, “The town we came from was wicked. The people were rude gossips who took advantage of innocent people. It was filled with thieves and liars.”
The wise man answered, “This town is the same as the one you left.”
They thanked the man for saving them from the trouble they had just come out of. They then moved further west.
Then another group of settlers arrived and asked the same question: “What is the town like?”
The wise man asked again, “What was the town like where you came from?”
These responded, “It was wonderful! We had dear friends. Everyone looked out for the others’ interest. There was never any lack because all cared for one another…”
The wise old man said to them exactly what he had said to the other group: “This town is the same as the one you left.” …
How they viewed their past relations was their scope for their future ones. The way you leave a church or a relationship is the way you will enter into your next church or relationship.
That’s a long illustration but I think it’s so perfect because how easy is it to be offended and think we will try something new and it will all be better? I’m not discounting that there are very valid reasons to leave something but keeping this in mind reminds us that maybe the difficult friendship just needed a little grace instead of completely abandoning it? Maybe you don’t need to hang out every weekend anymore but perhaps you can be cordial and forgive too?
6. Being easily offendable keeps us from seeing our own flaws.
When we are so focused on how everyone else is screwing up, we can hardly see our own sins. We tend to make all the excuses because we know our hearts but when it comes to being offended by someone else’s flaws, it’s easy to not approach with the same grace we’d give ourselves.
Matthew 7:3 says, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
7. Being easily offendable is exhausting.
Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of energy being annoyed. Whether it’s not being able to find a seat at church because everywhere you look, there’s something that bothers you (the loud singer, the crying baby, the too-visible front row, the “Amen!”-er, the strong perfume gal). Imagine being able to just sit wherever instead. This is a small example but I think we all have experienced the weight of certain offenses that we hold on to for so long. And when we finally give it up, it’s like lifting a literal weight off our shoulders.
8. Being easily offendable is damaging to our health.
Stress has such an enormous effect on our body. Being easily offendable is inviting the unnecessary stress that wasn’t placed on us to stick around with the unavoidable stresses that we’ve got to carry, like the job loss, the diagnosis, or the newborn who won’t sleep. Are we piling in extra stresses just for fun? Do we somehow find delight in rehashing the story of how someone wronged us? The other day, this is exactly what I did and I could still feel my blood boil as I retold the details that were seethed in my brain. In my relatively drama-free life, did I feel the need to store up this insane story for another day’s entertainment?
Let’s start letting that stuff go. It’s giving us anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, and an anxious heart. It’s shortening our deep breaths to shallow and unhelpful ones.
9. Being easily offendable isn’t required to take necessary actions.
Maybe someone did hurt you. Make healthy boundaries, but don’t let it take up more real estate than is necessary. If you’re one of the few people who become a doormat while never actually holding an offense or harboring unforgiveness, you can skip this one. For the rest of us though, I think we keep long records of wrongs, thinking it will protect us when it doesn’t. You can do what needs to be done without holding onto an offense.
10. Being easily offendable doesn’t require an actual offense.
We can be offended by real things, but we can also be offended by things we make up in our minds. We’re that creative sometimes. 😂 We can be offended by a tone, a look, or something we think someone said but didn’t actually say. The reason I threw this reminder in is because I need to remember this myself. When I’m faced with an opportunity to be offended, it’s honestly easiest to let go when I remember “Well, maybe that’s not how they meant it?” It’s like skipping the counseling session in my mind that may be required to drop an offense and reminding myself that nothing actually happened to require this internal processing in the first place.
11. Being easily offendable is natural.
Before we wrap this up, I think it’s really important to remember that this is our natural bent. This is all challenging because we weren’t made naturally being easily offendable and then we just slowly screwed it up over the last few years. We were born sinners with a bent toward sin, not holiness. So this is not our natural reaction. But it is God’s and thankfully, if we are believers, Christ lives in us and gives us the power to do countercultural things, like not be shocked and offended every time another human being does something human.
So where does that leave us? I think it’s time for a quick heart check:
- Is taking an offense a pet sin for us?
- Are we going out of our way to be offended? (looking at comments we know will bother us or even following people we don’t like just to be annoyed with them)
- Does confession need to take place? A time of reflecting through recent days and noticing any offenses? (Grab our new 30-minute prayer method if you need help with this. We have a whole session on confession.)
And a few extra Scriptures to jot down:
- Prov. 19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
- Prov. 17:9 – Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
- Prov. 10:12 – Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
- Prov. 18:19 – A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
- Prov. 12:16 – The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
- Mark 6:11 – And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.
- Ephesians 4:2-3 – With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
- Ecc 7:21-22 – Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.
- Colossians 3:13 (NLT) – Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
How have you seen taking an offense before? Does it feel like a real problem in day-to-day life? Has it become a pet sin? What would it look like to kick it?