“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 10:12; 19:11
“Love is patient and kind… It is not irritable or resentful… Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together.” 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5,7; Philippians 4:2-3
Inward focus, where self is central, taints our perspective of events and words, and results in selfish (and flawed) responses to them. When we are guardians of our rights, and driven by feelings, we are disabled from seeing honest intent and extending others the benefit of the doubt. In our day, “Euodia” and “Syntyche” can be pronounced “you’re odious” and “so touchy,” ne’er to get along or agree. Over the years, our culture has fomented suspicion and rage among people by heightening the preeminence of feeling and emotion over reason, truth, and good will.
Offenses unchecked become ugly fences that block us off from decency and free-flowing munificence toward others. When erected, they close off reason and close us in to defend ourselves and nurse perceived ‘wounds.’ We resist hurt, and blame anyone but ourselves for rifts. We get irritated, chafed, and stung, and rather than guarding against mental rabbit trails of resentment, we construct guards rails against any opposing opinion or edification. We use words like ‘bullied,’ ‘offended,’ ‘put off,’ instead of employing a vocabulary of grace and openness to seek true meaning and intentions. We shut off dialogue instead of making effort to communicate constructively and with civility, to redeem misunderstandings, to heal hurts, to make peace.
Where has touchiness overruled sensible responses, and compelled us to exaggerate the meaning of what someone said or did? Where has prideful self-defense caused us to wrongly accuse motives behind someone’s actions, painting them with guilt, holding them culpable for our discomfort? Why do we even choose to be offended instead of looking benevolently for the best in another? Where have I refused to consider that someone else who has a different perspective might actually have a reasonable point? What will I do to affirm value of the person, even if I do not agree with his opinion? How can we change our vocabulary to promote charity? (Matthew 7:1; Ephesians 4:32; Philippians 2:3-4; Hebrews 12:15)
When will we deconstruct the offenses we coddle and the fences we build? What steps will we initiate to turn from combat and link arms in redemptive resolve to move ahead for a larger good? (Proverbs 17:9)
Father, check and convict any hint, even a subconscious impulse, that life is all about me. So fill me with genuine love and generous gratitude that any offense is obliterated by my remembering, and applying, Your cross. (Isaiah 53:4-7; Romans 4:25)