How can I not take offense at little things? How can I stop being so easily offended?
Often when we try to avoid thinking about something, we invariably think about it. Tell someone not to think about a black and white striped camel, and they cannot help but think about a black and white striped camel. Think about not being offended, and you're likely to continue being offended. However, there is a way we can learn to not take offense so easily.
A good place to start is by examining the motivation behind our taking offense. For some, constantly taking offense reveals a low sense of security. When we see ourselves as lesser than others, we want to find ways of elevating ourselves. Finding offense in what others say or do gives us a false elevation. Conversely, when we have a faulty high sense of ourselves, we also can easily find offense in things. Both rely on a false sense of self. When we disassociate our own sense of security from our performance and perspective, our response to what happens around us will change. Doing so is part of becoming spiritually mature. Rather than rely on our perceptions and ourselves for worth, we learn to rely on God and to trust in Him.
Try this: the acronym COP.
C stands for "cover." Proverbs 10:12 says, in part, "love covers all offenses," and 1 Peter 4:8 says, in part, "love covers a multitude of sins." In any relationship, there will be little irritating things. We need to choose to love, focusing on the other person, rather than the so-called offense. Practice that, and you will begin to take less offense.
O stands for "overlook." Proverbs 19:11 says, "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." We can learn to forgive immediately. Ask God to give you grace and empathy for those who offend you. Choose to forgive, entrusting yourself to Christ and gaining your security from Him (Ephesians 1:5–7).
P stands for "pray." Praying is always a good idea. And, when tempted to be offended at little things, prayer can change your life one moment at a time. Jesus said that when we pray in His name (or according to His will) He will grant what we ask for. You can ask Jesus to help you honor others by not taking offense. You can ask Him to grant you wisdom (James 1:5) and He will give you wisdom. You can pray confidently for help (Hebrews 4:16).
Jesus may also come straight to your defense. Once, a woman poured an expensive amount of ointment over Jesus' head and was immediately criticized (Mark 14:3–5). The woman didn't jump to her own defense, but Jesus did. He told those who criticized her to leave her alone; He then honored her act of worship (Mark 14:6–9).
When we take offense, we are protecting who we think we are. Often, our self-identity is false and not based in our salvation and relationship to Christ. We feel we need to defend ourselves, lift ourselves up, lower others in our esteem, or all of the above. Remember, in Christ, we are completely secure. We can bring our burdens and pains to Him and trust Him with them. First Peter 5:6–7 tells us, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." When we have a godly perspective on who we are and go to Him with our problems, we are less likely to take offense at things others do.
Also remember Jesus' command to love others well (Luke 6:27–32; John 13:34–35). No matter who they are, the offender, just as we are, is a person in need of building up, forgiveness, and love. As God grows us, He transforms us into people who can love well. Pray for help to choose the God-honoring avenue. He will answer those prayers (John 14:13–14).
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