The eraser’s down here where the point belongs.
And the point’s at the top – so it’s no good to me.
It’s amazing how stupid some people can be.
– Shel Silverstein
I find the irony of this nonsensical poem well defines the attitude of the “often offended” person…this person will always be able to find fault with others, no matter how innocent the other party may be. This is because they are convinced that their own way is best in any and every situation. The often offended person sees matters in extremes – to them, all things are either black or white – with little to no flexibility for any shades in between.
Now I would like to make a disclaimer: there is a time and a place to be “offended”…..that is, we should never take sin lightly. If we see a brother overtaken in a fault it is our spiritual duty to our brother to help him back on his feet. (Galatians 6:1)
Rather, what I am talking about today is unsolicited nitpicking and fault-finding. The way we see things in life will inevitably at some point clash with a brother – and when it is not a matter of morals but of opinion – we do well to give grace and overlook such matters of differing personal preference.
An excellent christian quote that I think is quite fitting is this:
“In essentials, unity; In non-essentials, liberty; In all things, charity.”
1. We must never compromise God’s word, or “wink” at sin. There are non-negotiables.
2. We must extend grace to others who may share different preferences than us – whenever the matter is a flexible one.
3. Love how God loves – that means dealing with both essentials and non-essentials in a way befitting of a christian. (Good measure, pressed down, shaken together….Luke 6)
It is sometimes hard to see the lines between “It’s not what I like” and “it’s wrong”. Sisters, there is a huge difference! We can not risk turning people away from the faith because of our lack of understanding. We must be shrewd in our discernment of others, and if we find ourselves offended over non-essentials/gray areas, we had best check ourselves. Better to err on the side of love and mercy than to be a hard-nosed prude who turns many away from God’s kingdom.
We must realize that it truly “takes all kinds” to build up Christ’s church. Not everyone is going to be exactly like us in every way, and that’s okay! It is desirable to have a diversity of personalities within a congregation. Though it can make for tension at times among us, it is ultimately a blessing for reaching many kinds of people outside the faith.
If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? (1 Corinthians 12:17-19 KJV)
There were many disputes in Paul’s day about such matters as cultural holidays or the consumption of meat offered to idols. (see Romans 14) Christians often point out that we are not to put a stumbling block in our brother’s way….(and sisters, this is a truth!)…but I would also like to point out that it is not a compliment from God to be considered “weak in the faith”, as He calls those who will find offense in matters best left to their brother’s discretion. Will we choose to put a stumbling-block in a christian’s path by cruelly dictating his life in the name of offense?
Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4 KJV)
Contrary to popular belief, I do not think this verse at all implies that each person may do as they please, or that God will select some sinners into His kingdom without repentance. Not at all. In fact, you will note that this verse speaks of God’s “servant”…a person who is already living for God. What the verse is saying is not to have disagreements and needless offenses over trivial matters, such as appearances, personality quirks, likes, dislikes, etc.
We should find unity with our brethren based on the facts that we both have a) been baptized into the Lord’s church (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3), and b) we respect His sovereign authority by obeying His biblical statutes. (John 15:10; Psalms 103:17,18) Remember, we should always align our priorities with God’s, never upon our own perceived ideas of right and wrong.
Before we ever judge another as sinning, we ought to always be sure to use God’s standard as a measuring stick, and not our own! We may be ignorantly passing on prejudices passed down through generations, without ever stopping to think if the offense is based on true moral principle, or personal opinion.
We must not judge people based on their choice of clothing, hair color, jewelry, hobbies, games, movies, music, etc. unless we have clear biblical authority for doing so. Remember, God is our standard, and we draw lines where He draws them….as christians we are not to add to nor take away from His word!
Let it not be said of us that we are “often offended”. May we never be so foolish to be offended at the pencil-maker when we are holding the pencil upside down! Always use proper perspective when dealing with others.
He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him. (Proverbs 11:27 KJV)
God bless, and take a chill pill!