Don’t Be Offended

Years ago, I heard a testimony by a man who said that he was determined to not get offended. At the time, I thought that was an interesting goal but not one I’d ever considered. The older I get, the more I realize what a worthy goal that is. How many relationships have ceased, or at least been greatly strained, because one person became offended over something another person did or didn’t do.

I can’t say that I have mastered this but it is something that I am asking God’s help in. I find that, often, the person who caused the offense does not realize they have done so and, in this age of not wanting to offend others, the offended does not follow the Biblical principle of going to their friend to let them know they’re hurt or offended. This is so sad!

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One thing that helps me is realizing that I am not always easy to get along with either. There really is something to showing the grace to others that you would like to receive in return.If someone has offended you to the point that it is affecting your relationship, I would recommend that you go to that person and talk to them. Explain that you were offended by their actions and how you would like things to play out in the future.

If they listen and are willing to work through things, you have saved your relationship. If they aren’t, then you may need to distance but at least you did what you could. Then ask God to give you a pure heart toward that person. If you continue to let it fester, it could turn into bitterness, which may affect other relationships and will hinder your relationship with God. Pray too that God will give you an open heart if you are struggling with bitterness over a damaged relationship. Humility is the best path to pursue when striving to walk the path toward the future.

We Are Family

Last night, I was thinking about my family. I have five younger siblings. As I’ve watched them grow into adulthood, it’s been interesting how different we all are. We have different music interests, movie likes, convictions, etc. And yet we also share memories, stories, private jokes. I think deep down we also have a commitment to not allow things to become so mountainous that it negatively affects our relationship. Sure, we might strongly disagree with each other but most of our disagreements are not worth losing the friendship we have.

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This is how the Body of Christ should be as well. If we really understood that “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:5), maybe we would cherish each other more. If you were in an accident and lost your hand, you would no doubt try to find it and take it to the doctor to see if he could sew it back on. Yet, when a Brother or Sister cuts himself or herself off from the Body, we hardly notice. We may even think “good riddance.” I wonder if we would see more people come to know the Lord if they saw genuine love and care from God’s people.

This coming year, let’s ask God to give us greater hearts of love. Ask Him to give you His heart for those around you. I believe you would begin to look at people differently than you ever have before. God doesn’t look on a person’s outward appearance. He looks at the heart. We must learn to do that as well. As we draw near to Him, I believe He will help us to do so.

The Importance of Communicating Well

Communication. Everyone knows that this is important in relationships, but many don’t seem to know how to communicate well. Or maybe they just don’t want to take the time to do so. Communication is more than just talking; it’s also important that you weigh your words and deliver them in such a way that the hearer will not only hear, but will also understand what is being said and will receive it with thanksgiving that you had the conversation.

The way you say things can make a person smile, or it can make them defensive and angry. It can let them know you love them, or they may feel like you don’t.

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Because this can be hard to accomplish, some give up and decide to let a lot slide, regardless of how they feel, but this is not the answer. Instead, you need to ask God to help you to “let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). Be willing to admit when you are wrong and, if you are confronting someone about something they are doing wrong, do it humbly, realizing that you are not always right either.

I think true humility is one of the hardest things for humans to achieve, including Christians. Everyone wants to be liked and thought well of. When someone tears us down and, in our mind, makes us look bad in front of others, our flesh rises to the surface. This is one reason we must not do this to others.

Maybe you were hurt recently by something someone said or did. Or maybe you see someone making a major mistake and you feel you need to talk to them. Take time to pray until God’s love fills your heart for that other person. This can make all the difference. Without love, you are like a “sounding brass or tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). In other words, you are easier to ignore.

Relationships are important. They are the only thing we will take to Heaven with us (assuming they are in Christ). Do not take them for granted. Do not let pride cause them to disintegrate. A good friend (or spouse) is hard to find. When you find them, you must fight for (not with) them! The enemy wants to do everything he can to tear God’s people apart but, if you are faithful to fight against his tactics, you will find overcoming victory, and God will perform an even greater work in and through you, as well as give you stronger relationships that will last through the fiercest storms.

Dealing With Relational Stress

If you have lived for any amount of time, you have probably been through a breakup of some kind. Whether it was a spouse, a close friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend that you thought was “the one,” people have a way of distancing or, worse, actually turning on you. For myself, I can handle a lot but, when a person I thought loved me moves on, I do not handle that well.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season” and, unfortunately, this includes relationships. I do not like change, and this especially includes a change in relationship, but God allows things for a reason. Sometimes people are only in your life temporarily for a specific purpose. As much as I do not like that season to end, it makes me appreciate that much more those who are always there. I am very blessed with true friends, and I thank God for them.

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I think the hardest part is usually being able to handle relational stress emotionally. I know this is hard for me. You have to be there for your family and the remaining friends in your life, yet your heart aches for the friend that you lost. As hard as it may be, I’ve found that if you take time to thank God for the people who love you, it will give you perspective and reduce your heartache, if even a little.

For women, it is also important to remember that, although PMS is a real thing, we do not have a license to take our anger and frustration out on others. Sometimes things must be said, but there is a Godly way to say it. Until you have found that way, it is better to not say anything. The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20).

If you have something against another, go talk to that person but go with a heart to hear. There is a good chance that it was just a misunderstanding or that you are being hypersensitive and it will blow over.

If you suspect that someone is holding things against you or that your relationship is changing with someone, you should ask him or her if there is a problem. If they say nothing or they don’t want to talk about it, you are going to have to let it go and trust God to heal your heart.

Regardless of your situation, the answer is to draw near to God. He is the only one who can truly comfort your heart and bring peace and joy to your soul. Others may try but God created humans to do only so well in that department. Mostly, He desires His children to rely on Him.

Remember too that this too shall pass. It may feel like the end of the world now but it’s not. God will accomplish His purposes. You will be able to move on. And one day, everything that you don’t understand now will be made clear. Just trust Him. Lean on Him. He is near and will continue to be near, even when others fail.

Walk in Unity

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! … For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Psalm 133: 1, 3b).

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4).

Unity. One of the things Jesus prayed for His followers (John 17:11) but one thing I don’t see a lot of today. Since the time of Jesus, God’s children have fought over everything from the core doctrines of the faith to the very petty disagreements. Churches have split over the proper way to baptize or how often to take communion, and what kind of bread and drink should be used when doing so. I really don’t think this is what God intended. Jesus would confront sin but He would not debate people to try to convince them of His views. He didn’t cast off His disciples every time they did something stupid. He understood that God gave Him those followers, and He spent His life teaching them and walking with them.

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Today, we often treat each other as easy come, easy go. Relationships just aren’t that important to us, which I think is very sad since people are the only thing we are taking to Heaven with us.

I realize there are times when you must separate from others but the only time Scripture tells us to cut off others is for immorality. There are also times when you may need to leave a church but there is a Godly way to do it, and it’s not by taking half the church with you.

We need to learn to recognize those whom God has put in our lives and, when we find them, determine to work things out and not let them go. We cannot receive the rebukes and exhortations and, yes, even occasional necessary rebukes if we aren’t in fellowship with others.

If you have cut off a friend over a small disagreement or have left a church with an attitude that affected more than just yourself, you need to repent. If you were part of a singing group that you feel mistreated you and you promptly slandered them upon your departure, you need to go back to those you have talked to and acknowledge your wrongdoing. It’s no wonder that people aren’t flocking to know God when they see His children fighting amongst themselves and tearing each other down. Satan doesn’t have to destroy the Church when the Church is doing a good job of destroying itself.