Don’t I Have the Right to Be Offended?

I got offended because a friend behaved in a way I didn’t like. To be clear, she had every right to act the way she did, and I had no justification for my reaction, but that didn’t keep me from sinking into negativity. My rotten attitude almost ruined the weekend for everyone around me. I knew I was overreacting and should let go of my resentment, but I didn’t want to, and it took me two days to finally come to my senses.

Today’s world tells us that we are not responsible for our attitudes. Being offended or annoyed is purely the fault of others, and we can’t be held accountable, even if we blow up or retaliate. After all, we’re the innocent party—the other person said or did something wrong, and we couldn’t help but react. As a result of holding such views, people have become like walking timebombs, just waiting to be triggered. And if they do explode, it’s because the other person pushed the button.

What has been the result of the worldly “wisdom” of always blaming others? We don’t need to look far to see how destructive to our relationships it has been. Society is divided as never before. Civil discourse is almost nonexistent, families and neighbors don’t speak to each other, and anger is always simmering below the surface, just waiting for the chance to rear its ugly head.

It’s time we take responsibility for our attitudes and actions. We can’t change others or stop certain emotions from rising within us, but we can control our attitude, which then impacts our actions (our attitude may be the only thing we can control in life).

Since God created us and knows us better than we know ourselves, we are wise if we turn to the Bible for guidance. God’s Word teaches something totally different than the world and shows us how to have harmony in relationships—we bear the responsibility for our attitudes and actions. We’re to blame if we get offended and have a temper tantrum. It doesn’t mean the other person is innocent of wrongdoing, but we can’t fault them for our outburst.

In his letter, the Apostle Peter encourages the church to live in harmony. (1) He knows how easily discord and feuds can ruin a congregation (the world hasn’t changed much in this regard, has it?). What advice does he give to accomplish such peace and unity? All his guidance is connected to our attitude. He calls us to be sympathetic, compassionate, loving, and humble. He tells us not to repay evil with evil or insult with insult but instead with a blessing. He reminds us that God is watching and will deal with the evil while rewarding our positive attitude. In other words, harmony starts with us.

If I could go back in time to that weekend when I was offended and almost ruined Christmas (yes, it was that weekend), I would banish my petty indignation the moment it entered my mind. I can’t change the past, but I can ensure it will never happen again. Life is too short to be offended all the time—most of all, we are the ones who suffer.

(1) 1 Peter 3:8-12

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