“He’s only hit me a few times.” She said almost too calmly. That comment stopped me mid-sip in my coffee. When Laura,* 16, first asked me to be her mentor, I thought we’d talk about friends and school, but instead, she revealed a family history of physical abuse, shouting matches and control. I was sickened and deeply offended.
Yes, I was offended. That word means more than feeling attacked, insulted or even persecuted. For followers of Jesus, it is a call to action. Many believers mistakenly apply “turn the other cheek” to all offenses instead of seeing this principle as Jesus’ example of what to do specifically in the case of being persecuted (see Matthew 5:38-40). There are other circumstances when we’re allowed to be offended. Biblical examples include God’s response to Egypt’s oppression of Israel (see Exodus 3:7) and Jesus being offended at the exploitation of worship in the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13). The beauty of this kind of offense is that it moves the offended into action while still keeping a tender heart for broken, offensive people. Our Lord’s response revealed His Kingdom motive and mission.
Our response to offenses should reveal the same. Offenses designed to steal, kill and destroy call for a response. Words and actions simply designed to insult do not. I’m praying I can respond to Laura’s delicate situation as the Lord would. She’s already revealed a spiritual maturity by praying for and honoring her parents as best she can by reminding herself, “they are broken people,” an attitude I’m praying God can move me towards as Laura and I walk this road together.
Think about what offends you as opposed to what insults you. Does the offense move you into action while allowing you to keep your heart tender for the offender? Is there someone in your life who needs you to “take offense” for them in a difficult time?