It’s happening daily. It’s the volatile, divisive world we’re living in right now.
A personal accusation, a misunderstanding, careless words, or an action on the part of another rubs you the wrong way and before you know it, you’re offended.
Maybe you’re the one who unintentionally offended someone else by the words you said and now you’re put off or just confused that they are offended. But, how you choose to handle that offense (whether it’s yours or someone else’s) makes all the difference – or all the drama – in the world.
As I was writing my book, Drama Free, I realized a common reason for drama – especially among followers of Christ – is the spirit of offense and how we deal with it. The spirit of offense is what causes division between people. It’s what destroys friendships, breaks up marriages, and splits churches. And it’s on the rise right now in all shapes and forms.
The more I examine Scripture, the more I find that a Spirit-controlled woman is not one to give in to the spirit of offense. Proverbs 19:11 says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (NIV).
Having a strategy for dealing with offensive behavior can not only keep us from unnecessary drama, but it can shield our hearts from being taken captive by the spirit of offense and becoming bitter.
From my book, Drama Free, here are seven smart, but loving, ways to respond when you’re offended:
1. Respond maturely, don’t react emotionally.
Are you one who lets everything steamroll you? Do you allow others’ opinions to get to you? Do you snap back or pout or plot a way to get even? You and I can’t control what others say or think about us, but we can control how we respond. If you know that God’s opinion of you is the only one that matters you will be able to respond appropriately and even biblically, rather than react emotionally. Remember, the offense isn’t so much about how you feel,but more about how you respond.
2. Realize there is always more to the story.
Much of our offense comes from having too little information. There is always another side to the story. There is always a context within which the story – or the offensive statement or action – occurred. And there is always a back story – what a person may have been dealing with that caused her to say or do what she did to offend you or to react defensively toward what you said about her. Ask God for the discernment to know if you really need to hear the context or the other side of the story, or if you need to just blow it off and move on.
3. Refrain from acting impulsively.
Being impulsive in our words and actions often leads to drama. James 1:19 tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
As you and I take time to think through our responses we can keep from reacting emotionally and impulsively, which many times escalates drama.
Oswald Chambers said: “Impulsiveness is a trait of the natural life, and our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God gives a sense of restraint to impulsiveness, suddenly bringing us a feeling of self-conscious foolishness, which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves. Impulsiveness is all right in a child, but is disastrous in a man or woman – an impulsive adult is always a spoiled person. Impulsiveness needs to be trained into intuition through discipline.”
4. Reflect on any seed of truth.
Within nearly every offense or accusation is a seed of truth. Even if just a tiny one. What might have provoked the offense? Is there something you could’ve done to prevent it? Get in the practice of taking every offense to God and asking Him to show you what, if anything, is true in the accusation or offense, and what you can learn from it. Sometimes, in the middle of the offense taken or the offense given is a lesson God wants you to see about yourself. Maybe He wants to show you how for forgive and extend grace. Maybe He wants to show you how to take it to Him and not someone else. It’s humbling to seek the seed of truth in an offense, but it’s essential if we want to grow in Christlikeness.
5. Resist the urge to defend yourself.
This step has been the most helpful to me through the years. I can lose sleep at night trying to defend my image, or waste energy on explanations, defenses, or attempted retaliation. But none of that is necessary when I realize one golden truth: God’s got my back.
In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster writes:
A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our public image. We fear so deeply what we think other people see in us that we talk in order to straighten out their understanding.” But, Foster says, when we choose to be silent – putting the stopper on all self-justification – we are showing God and others that we believe He can care for us, reputation and all.
6. Rely on God to protect your name.
There is much freedom in being able to let an offense or accusation fall by the wayside with the mindset that “my name is Christ’s. And, therefore an accusation against me is an accusation against Him. And He can defend His name.”
Trust God in the midst of the drama and let the offenses of others lead you to a greater dependence on the Lord. As you do that, you’ll experience the best kind of drama – the dramatic way in which you will grow in your relationship with – and dependence on – God!
7. Remember it’s not all about you.
In Galatians 2:20, the Apostle Paul wrote “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Dying to self and living to Christ means identifying ourselves with Jesus. Surely, the offense you are dealing with is part of making you more like Christ, who was offended, mocked and ultimately executed though He did nothing wrong. Take your hurting heart to God and let Him use it to soften you and make you more like His Son.
Which of these steps will you focus on this week to dial down the drama of the spirit of offense that is all around you? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below so I can pray for you and your situation. (And don’t forget, you can still get your copy of Drama Free for only $10.49 each plus shipping through the end of June!)
Wow, thank you for this! Perfect timing. So much is happening in the world right now and I have noticed in my family and at work a spirit of discord and division. Even the “argument” over wearing masks can turn ugly! I have may small tumors in my lungs that the oncologist is watching (due to having ovarian cancer that may have spread) so I don’t wear masks unless it’s absolutely mandatory… I have been called “selfish” and people have been downright mean to me. I don’t feel like I should have to tell the “mask police” my reason for not wearing them, so when I read this: “He can defend His name” it jumped off the page at me and reassured me that the Lord can & will defend me.
Terri, so good to hear from you, my friend. And thank you for sharing about your tumors so I can be praying for you. Yes, isn’t it wonderful that God knows our hearts and we don’t have to offer explanations to anyone…we can rest in the knowledge that He’s got our backs. Thank you for sharing a real-life, timely example of how we can respond (or refrain from responding) when others take offense at us even when our hearts are right. Love you, sister.
Read the book, Drama Free, and agreed with your observations. Then I found a simply way to handle “offending” remarks…. Look at the person who made the comment, and, with a smile, say, “Why thank you for that remark/observation/comment, I will take it under consideration.” This statement is polite and clear and immediately shuts down the conversation, as the person who made the comment has no where to go verbally. You can walk away, and, as you do, decide just how much time you should spend considering: a valid comment requires some soul searching, but, if not valid, than the consideration time can be a few seconds down to 0.00000000000001 nanosecond. No hurt feelings, no guilt, and the matter has been dealt with, with no drama on either side. Have found that this works quite well.
Thank you for that, Kathleen. I’ve heard that advice many times and it does work. Acknowledge, thank, and move on. Another person can’t control what we do with their remark, but we can surely control what we decide to do with it…and most of the time it’s something we need to set aside, pray about, and often times let go and move on. Thanks again for your input. And thank you for being a reader of Drama Free. 🙂
Dear Cindy, I have been a christian from childhood. Teaching my children that love of and commandments of God. They have grown to be fine men for which I am eternally thankful to God.
One of my sons has become very active in church and loves helping others. But he’s very protective of loved ones. He can easily be offended if some one hurts one of us and becomes to emotional in his defense. He doesn’t curse and yell, but defends an can be know to tell someone, “you’re acting like a child, and need to grow up.”
Recently I lost my oldest son to cancer after a 4 yr battle. He was a man of God, family loving and full of gentleness, patience and love for all. The family is devastated by the loss of his Godly presence.
My middle son put a message on facebook to let those who loved him and knew he was ill,know of his home going.
My grand daughter, whose dad had just died took great offense, because she felt he had no right to do that and it caused her mother further stress and grief, as her phone began to explode with calls and text. My son was taken by surprise and became defensive, as she continued to put offense remarks on facebook. So he called her and they had words each in their own defense, which has made very hard feelings between them.
I have advised both that words of derision helps no one. But trying to clearly look at the others feelings, and the innocence of what they had done recognizing that each were grieving and each not understanding the cause of the other would be best.
I can see both sides. But they both have a difficult time understanding the others feelings.
Please pray for these two precious people. My son is praying, and said he won’t hold it against her, but I know he will avoid her. My grand daughter is not a christian, but I love her and try to convey my thought on reconciliation to her. This is definately not what her dad would be pleased with.
Thank you for any advice and prayers.
I read and love your writing.
Ruth, thank you for sharing the concern on your heart. Oh the woes we know today because of social media. What started as a way to “connect” with others has surely become a tool of divisiveness by the devil. Lord, grant us wisdom to know when to talk, personally, with others and stay off of social media. Yes, I will be praying for your middle son and your granddaughter and that God’s peace and a spirit of reconciliation would cover this spirit of offense. You keep praying, too…your words are not unheard.
Thank you for these reminders. Pray before speaking and/or writing. 🙂
Thanks, Melissa. That’s good advice now, too. Whereas before we might’ve just written and expected God to bless, now we are reminded of the necessity to take everything — said and written — to Him in prayer and have Him filter out what doesn’t need to be said and fill in the gaps with what others need to read or hear. 🙂
Wow, wow, and wow! I need to work on ALL of the steps! I’ve printed this article and will keep it in my Bible cover to reference DAILY. Thank you, Cindi. I needed this today.
You’re welcome, Kathi. Thank you for your enthusiastic response. You encouraged my heart today. 🙂
I can’t believe this, I am living this message, i need your prayers. Reading this just changed how I was going to respond to my situation.
You’re welcome, Tony. Thanks for reading and responding. 🙂
Thank you so much, recently I had that kind of situation. Responded just like Kathleen said, thank you all.
Thank you Cindi.
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading. 🙂
GREAT ARTICLE Cindi! I’m so happy to have this valuable resource to share! <3
Thank you, Rhonda. I continue to refer others to you and your website when they have questions about their adult sons. 🙂 Happy to be partnering with you…always.
Cindi, #2,3 don’t apply to me, but the other 5 I’m facing every day in a nursing facility! Each day is a new drama, + most of the CNAs are afraid they’re going to get caught for their wrongdoing, mainly towards me, since I can only speak for myself. The Lord sees & knows all about the things, which they’re putting me thru! Correct, I’m not to fear, however, the tongue is the deadliest member in this place, & any nursing home! (Probably throughout the world!!). I’m probably praying selfishly, because I cannot handle the disrespect by these girls over the most minute issues which add up to neglect, lack of nutrition because they don’t want to help me! Understand? Fearful!
Thank you, Margaret, for giving me a glimpse of what you’re going through. My suggestion is that you pray for these girls who are causing your suffering through their talk and neglect. Jesus not only changes our hearts as we pray for those who persecute us (or for those who just make our lives miserable), but He often changes the hearts of those we are praying for, too. He already knows your situation. Trust Him with it and please His heart by praying for those girls and pretty soon your attitude will change toward them and I’m pretty sure their attitude will change toward you, too. If not, you’ll at least have God’s peace. God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of love and a sound mind. 🙂
I just recently received a blessing to work for another company, a advance that I have prayed for. I worked for my previous company 14 years and I am stepping out on faith. A fresh start! I ask God for a new beginning with no drama and the work place or life itself. I start on Monday and the position I took is a lot of responsibilities, even though I know I can do it. The more I look at my offer letter and look up the expectations of the position I get cold feet. I tossed and turned last night thinking about making sure I do the correct paper work, hoping I can pronounce words correctly or if I speak proper English, my appearance because I’m missing two side teeth. All kinds of things flooded my mind and when I read “God got your back”, that took some relief off of me.
Thank you Cindi, I enjoyed reading your Blog.
Thank you, Zadie. I will be praying for your God-confidence as you start that job. God clearly opened the door for you to work there. He will not leave you just as you enter the door. 🙂 “Lord, please go before Zadie into this job You have given her. May her confidence be in You, the abilities You have given her, and the peace You will provide her with as she does her best and commits the rest.”
Thank you for this Cindi! To be honest, I think I need to focus on all 7. Because they all come up in a weeks time or less. Sometimes several will belong to one incidence. Each contain valuable pearls for reflection!
You’re welcome, Chery. Press on. Continue to be a light in the darkness out there. 🙂
Thank-you so much for this! God is surely watching out for me right now. My “drama” is so pathetic, never even was looking at, most of where i am in the middle of, all the time is drama. My mind is so full right now of what my God expects of me, will continue this another time. Thank-you again for listening your own self
Hi Kathryn. Actually there is only one thing God expects of us. (We can get so bogged down by all the things we think we must DO for Him). In Matthew 22:37 we are told the greatest commandment (and the no. 1 thing God desires of us) is that we love God with all our heart, soul and mind. Everything else will flow out of a love for Him first. I hope that helps simplify things in your mind and heart. Blessings.