We've all been there. Somebody says something that we disagree with, and we jump to defend ourselves. Or maybe somebody doesn’t send a text back, and we automatically think, “Oh no, they're mad at me, but I didn't do anything!” Learning how to not take offense at little things is a difficult task, but with God's help, we can manage it.
Our minds are wired in a way that if we try to not think about something, we'll think of it anyway. Don't think of a blue monkey! See? So maybe it's not so much about ignoring the offense but more like looking at it in a different way. We can ask ourselves, "WHY am I taking offense at this little thing? How can I stop feeling offended so quickly?"
Taking offense at the little things is actually rooted in our own sinful nature. When we have trouble with taking offense at little things, that usually means we have a distorted view of personal security. We're seeking approval based on our own personal performance or the approval of others, and when we don't get that, we feel insecure, hurt, or offended. When others approve of us, then we feel secure.
But that's a really unstable source of security, isn't it? When we base our security on what others think about us or on our performance, we will easily get angered and upset at little things. Relying on others to give us peace and security robs us of the peace and security we have in Jesus.
The Bible tells us that the first step is understanding and truly believing that our identity is found in Christ alone (Ephesians 1:5-7). We don’t need to try to find security in ourselves or others. Lasting security is found only in Jesus. We obtained salvation by faith alone, as we did nothing to earn that gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).
When our identity is rooted in Christ and we're not trying to seek security or validation through our own efforts or the approval of others, then we'll have an easier time letting little offenses just slide by.
Do you like cop shows? I love cop shows. Let's deal with offenses by doing a little self-interrogation, with you playing the good cop. C.O.P. is our acronym for learning how to stop taking offense at little things: Cover - Overlook - Pray. (Aren't we clever?)
We can cover offenses with love. The Bible tells us that “hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12). When we think somebody has said something offensive to us, we need to first consider that maybe the other person was having a bad day or maybe they just flunked a big math test. Maybe we misunderstood what was done or said. Maybe it had nothing to do with us at all.
Instead of taking offense at a mean remark, we should cover the offense with love, extending love to others as Jesus does to us (1 Peter 4:8), thus glorifying God through the situation. Instead of focusing on how the other person slighted us or wronged us, we should instead focus on the other person’s feelings and try to understand things from their perspective. When our focus turns to helping another in love, we can overlook being offended.
Overlooking an offense requires us to take the higher road and extend grace to the person who has offended. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs was written by Solomon, the man who God gave the most wisdom ever, so he knows what he is talking about.
When we choose to be patient with an offender rather than jump to our defenses, we can overlook the offense. Think about it... We usually take offense at something because it angers us, scares us, or hurts us. Maybe the person offending us is actually angry, scared, or hurt themselves, and they're projecting those feelings onto you. That doesn't make it right, but it does help us to understand where they're coming from.
Turn it around for a minute. How much better would YOU feel if you accidentally offended someone, and instead of attacking you, they chose to extend forgiveness and overlook the offense? Our relationships would be so much more peaceful and fruitful with just a little more patience and understanding for each other.
This should really be our first line of defense, but oftentimes it is our last. (Not to mention that the acronym wouldn't work as well if it was P.C.O.) It may sound trite, but there really is power in taking time to talk to God. Having consistent conversations with Jesus is a powerful and effective practice and can help us sort out our thoughts and emotions.
If you struggle with taking offense at little things, ask God to help you learn to cover offenses with love and overlook your kneejerk defense mechanisms. Ask God to help you find your security in Him rather than in yourself or others. God is faithful in answering our prayers.
In the book of Mark, we find the story of a woman who opens a jar of very expensive perfume and pours it on Jesus to prepare Him for burial (Mark 14:3). Now, this perfume was really expensive—think Chanel. Well, this woman took the beautifully smelling perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head. What did the people say around her? They all started hating on her, saying harsh things, and telling her that she wasted it (Mark 14:4-5).
The woman could have been offended at their nasty remarks, but instead she chose to focus on Jesus. Nothing in the Bible tells us the woman got angry, upset, or spoke a word back to the offenders. What we DO see is Jesus stepping in and defending her (Mark 14:6-9). In fact, Jesus says that wherever the Gospel would be preached in the future, her act of faithful devotion would also be told in memory of her (Mark 14:9). This woman chose to overlook the offenses made against her and instead chose to rest in her security and identity in Christ.
Friends, may we all do the same.
We get offended when we feel hurt, attacked, or scared. When we feel that somebody has offended us, the Bible gives us some advice to help the situation. Cover the offense in love by choosing to understand that they may have had a tough day or we're simply misunderstanding them. Overlook the offense by choosing to focus on their feelings instead (1 Peter 4:8). Ask God to help you cover the offense in love and overlook it and to understand that your identity and security is found in Christ alone (Ephesians 1:5-7).
Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.