By DAN HALL
I wrote on this topic five years ago. Unfortunately, the national conversation has not only seemed to deteriorate, but I fear the “I’m offended” mantra has entered the Christian lexicon.
In my 40 years as an adult, I have regularly gotten cornered into Christian discussions about where I stand politically on innumerable topics. The difference in the last five years has been a growing sense of Christian victimization in an increasingly hostile culture. Biblical truths of being “hated by all men” and “suffering with grace for Christ’s name” have somehow evaporated among the sweet brothers and sisters.
Stay with me here. This is not a political discussion. It’s not even a discussion on persecution. It is one man’s observation of the high cost in our society, and now in the church, of how quickly we derail because we are offended.
Whether I’m coaching a CEO, an executive team, a church, a family or my own children, one uncompromising principle is, “Don’t lose sideways energy on being offended.” Far too often we allow an offense to guide important aspects of our lives.
Proverbs 17:9 expands on the cost of offense: “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”
When we are offended, it’s common to gather a coalition of cheerleaders around us by explaining, extrapolating and even exaggerating our side of the story — often pitting our friends against each other.
When we are offended, we also lose the opportunity to forgive others as Christ forgave us. But if we cover over an offense, we bring love into the equation, redeeming both 1) the encounter that created the offense, and 2) the relationship.
Proverbs 19:11 tells us that “it is to (our) glory to overlook an offense.” When we refuse to allow someone’s words, tone or even actions to offend us, it strengthens our character, increases our authority and brightens our countenance.
The core principle of this whole challenge is to love one another as Christ loves us. To be honest, embarrassingly this is a challenge I too often struggle with. But I do know this: When I accept the challenge, I am not only being faithful to God and showing Christ’s heart, but selfishly I experience the joy that comes with that faithfulness.
Maybe that’s why Peter challenges us in 1 Peter 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.