“I won’t be coming to the men’s breakfast tomorrow.” Mark snarled. “I refuse to let anyone disrespect me the way Gary does.”
“What happened?” asked Pastor Jermaine.
“Last Sunday after church, Gary and I were the only ones in the kitchen, and Gary didn’t even speak to me.”
Jermaine chuckled. “Well, Mark, I can’t remember Gary ever initiating conversation with me. I’ve always had to greet him first. That’s just Gary.”
“But it’s more than that. It’s obvious Gary is upset with me.”
“You’re probably right. Gary is unhappy with me too. And with a lot of other people. Gary’s just not a very happy person. But you don’t have to let Gary’s problems control your actions.”
“What do you mean?”
“We have a choice. When Gary acts like a jerk, we can take offense, or we can let Gary’s problems be Gary’s problems and refuse to make them ours. We can choose to just love on Gary, which is what he needs. Gary doesn’t feel very good about himself right now, and he’s blaming other people.”
“So,” Jermaine asked, “will I see you at the breakfast tomorrow?”
Mark stared at the floor, wagged his head, then looked up with a crooked grin. “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll be there.”
Taking offense is a choice. Proverbs 19:11 says, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (NIV). Our everyday language often betrays the lies we believe: “She makes me so mad.” “He makes me feel bad about myself.” The truth is, if I get mad when another person disrespects me, I’ve chosen to respond with anger. I don’t have to let other people’s actions dictate my responses.
Jesus says I have options: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV). When others curse us, Jesus commands us to bless them (Luke 6:28).
There are times that we need to go to the offender to talk it out. Not because we have chosen to take offense, but because we want to restore the relationship (Matthew 18:15). In fact, that’s what Mark ended up doing. A few days after the men’s breakfast, he talked with Gary and they cleared the air between them. It’s not always that simple, but sometimes it is.
Brant Hansen has written a whole book on this simple yet powerful truth: I can choose to be “unoffendable” (Unoffendable, Thomas Nelson 2015).
When our identity, our emotional security, our sense of worth, is deeply rooted in God’s unconditional love for us, we have the power to refuse to take offense.
The next time someone ticks you off….
Wait…the next time you start to feel offended, remember: You have a choice. You can take offense, or you can return blessings for curses. You can get mad, or you can rejoice and be glad. Jesus says we have options.