Monday, November 26, 2012

Taking Offence - Doug Gaines

     I am but a simple man who has spent much time in contemplation on various topics, of which I have three questions for you to contemplate yourselves.
1. How often are you offended by someone or something?
2. How often are you angered by someone or something?
And ... 
3. How often have you shown grace to someone or exhibited grace in a “sticky” situation you have found yourself in?
     Our reaction to people or situations that are offensive by nature or that can cause us to get angry can tell us volumes about ourselves. For simpler discussion purposes I will refer to our reactions as “attitudes.” I believe these three “attitudes” go hand in hand. Offense and anger are many times found together and are both almost always mutually exclusive of grace. I will attempt to show just what I mean.
The offense I am referring to at this time is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “something that outrages the moral or physical senses” and “the state of being insulted or morally outraged.” 
     Anger is defined as...well Webster’s couldn't define anger without using a form of the word itself, so I’m using synonyms to define it - to enrage, infuriate, rankle. Before we go much further, I’m going to remove “righteous anger” from the picture. That is another essay in and of itself. The grace I am referring to includes, but is not limited to; the disposition to, or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency [to the “undeserved”]. This is an image of the grace God bestows upon us.
     What offends you? Are you offended when someone doesn't smell good? Are you offended when someone plays music you don’t like? Are you offended when someone teases you? How do you react to these offenses? Let’s say you are offended in these cases. Let’s say that you ask them to clean up or stop what they are doing. They don’t; so what happens next? Do you get angry? I liken anger to the next step beyond offense. In Matthew 5:29-30 Christ tells us if our hand or eye offends us to remove them. Christ used a more descriptive method for the removal than I. By rights we should all be cripples if we were to take this literally. I believe what Christ was telling us that we should strive towards not letting ourselves be offended. I believe Christ “allowed” us being slow to take offense (or anger) because of the hardness of our hearts. My Father used to say, “Don’t be offended.” 
     What makes you angry? Do you get angry when someone cuts you off on the highway? Do you get angry after someone offends you and won’t apologize? Do you get angry when a sibling breaks something that belonged to you? Do you get angry if your drawer doesn't have any clean socks in it? Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:26 (a) not to let the sun go down on our anger and (b) not to sin when we are angry. From experience; if I am angry when I go to bed, I simply cannot sleep. That makes for a very long night, because I like my sleep. I think Paul understood very well what anger could do to your physical health as well as your attitude. I have to say as well, that when I get angry, I believe I always sin. I personally believe we as fallen humans cannot get angry without sinning. We have to remember that sin is not just what we physically do (commission) or don’t do (omission), but it is also our thought life. Let’s say someone makes you angry; you don’t do anything about it, but you have a thought; “I’d like to do ________ and let him know what I think, but I won’t.” Wasn't that thought sinful? My Father used to make a point about anger and how it can affect. He would say, in a loud voice; “I AM NOT ANGRY” and pound his fist on the table. We can say what we like, but oftentimes our reaction betrays us anyway.
     Oftentimes the Bible uses offense and anger together and sometimes they seem to be interchangeable. Proverbs 19:11 says, “Good sense [wisdom] makes one slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Unfortunately some people seem to thrive on being offended and are even apt to say or do something to elicit an offense. The attitudes of offense and anger can have some very negative effects upon us and those around us. As a man, I have been striving (with the express aid of the Holy Spirit) to put aside my tendency towards offense and anger. Of late, I have found that I am more apt to be offended than become angry, but my anger is more volatile. The anger however usually stems from an offense; and this usually stems from selfish expectations.
     I believe if we can focus on Christ and God’s Grace, then we can curb most of our offenses and anger. Remember Christ endured many offenses (without being offended) on our behalf. Romans 6:14 says “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.” I believe God is not only 100% truth (another essay topic), but also 100% grace. Those who have received God’s gift of grace need to strive to show or exhibit that same type of grace to those around them. Next time someone snaps at you, find out if they’re having a bad day. Maybe they need to be cheered up. Next time someone plays music you don’t like, strike up a conversation with them and try to introduce them to your type of music. The next time someone cuts you off on the road: instead of yelling at them, say a prayer for their safety. Use these times to show grace to others instead of being offended. The next time something of yours gets broken; instead of getting angry, realize that life is short and “things” are not what is important in God’s eyes. The next time your sock drawer is empty; maybe you could ask if you can help do the laundry (strive to be a servant) instead of getting angry. We need to overlook the offenses of others so they may see in us the love of God. We need to learn to be gracious and show grace to those around us who seem they don’t deserve it; because ultimately we don’t deserve it either.

     Mr. Doug Gaines 

Image by Leaping Lizard

1 comment:

  1. very good thoughts i have trouble with this kind of stuff