We’ve all been on the receiving end of a hurtful statement or action. However, it seems like our culture gives more attention to how we react in these situations than what was actually done in the first place. We worry about looking overly sensitive or drawing too much attention to our feelings. It’s as if being offended is a sign of weakness.
Is being offended a sign of weakness? Is it better to simply “brush it off” and act like we don’t care about what we just experienced? Should we push back to prove we’re strong?
Is being offended a sign of weakness?
Being offended is feeling hurt or upset because of something someone said or did. It's important to know that having feelings of offense is not a sign of weakness, but rather a normal human reaction. Even strong people can be hurt by hurtful words or actions.
The Bible acknowledges that offense is a part of life and gives us all kinds of guidance on how to navigate situations where we feel offended. However, the Bible offers us a different definition of strength than what the world around us does. Here’s what the Bible says about showing strength in the face of hurt and offense:
Humility is strength
While feeling offended is not a sign of weakness, the way we respond to offense reveals our character and strength. In the Bible, Jesus teaches us about the strength of humility. In Matthew 5:5, Jesus says, "God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth."
Some versions of this verse replace “humble” with the word “meek.” Meekness is often thought of as being gentle or mild-mannered.
Being meek is not about being weak; it's about having strength under control. When we respond to offense with humility, we show that we have the inner strength to choose a peaceful path instead of reacting angrily.
Turn the other cheek
In Matthew 5:39, Jesus tells us, "But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also."
This might seem surprising, but it doesn't mean we're weak if we choose not to retaliate. Instead, it shows our strength to rise above negativity and respond with love and grace. Turning the other cheek takes courage and self-control, which are qualities of a strong person.
Be loving and forgiving
One of the most powerful teachings in the Bible is about love and forgiveness. In Colossians 3:13, it says, "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others."
Choosing to forgive someone who has offended us requires incredible strength. It's not about letting them get away with their actions, but about freeing ourselves from the burden of anger and hurt.
Protect your heart
Proverbs 4:23 advises us, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." This verse reminds us that it's okay to feel hurt, but we should be careful not to let negative feelings consume us. It takes strength to protect our hearts from bitterness and resentment.
This may also mean setting boundaries when we need to. If we find we’re more easily offended in certain situations, pulling away might be a good idea. You may choose to limit time on social media or even conversation topics with certain people. These habit changes can be the key to guarding our hearts and protecting the relationships that matter to us.
Overcome evil with good
What could make a person feel stronger than being considered a “conqueror?” In Romans 12:21, we read, "Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good."
This means that when someone offends us, we have the opportunity to respond with kindness and understanding. Choosing to do good in the face of offense shows our inner strength to rise above negativity and contribute positively to the situation.
These teachings remind us that true strength lies in our ability to respond to offense with grace, love, and compassion. So, the next time you feel offended, remember that you have the choice to respond in a way that reflects your inner strength and faith.
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Or check out our Uncommon Ground Toolkit for more resources on relating with others in a world full of polarized views and opinions.
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