I heard something a couple days ago that I hope I never forget. I want these six words to lead me through life, and I want it to be said of me at my funeral.
“Hard to offend. Quick to forgive.”
Stephen Kendrick, pastor and Christian filmmaker, said this during the rehearsal for Revive Us 2 when explaining how we can bring unity back into our families. He said the words quickly, but they soaked into my heart like water into dry ground, reaching down to the roots of my soul.
Why did this simple phrase resonate so deeply? I think there are a couple of reasons.
The first reason is that I’m painfully aware of the fact that this is not always who I am. Recently, one of my dear friends passionately spoke up during lunch about her differing political views, and something she said rubbed me the wrong way. I quickly jumped into the conversation and defended my position, not because I wanted to have a healthy discussion, but because I was offended.
I later asked for her forgiveness, because that’s not who I want to be. I don’t want to be easily offended. While I think it’s wise to know where we stand on important issues, they should not define us to the point of controlling our emotions. Plus, if I ever want to have a constructive conversation with her, it will not begin from the point of being offended. That will only result in damage to our friendship.
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9.
I also think this phrase hit me so hard because of the environment we all live in today. We are practically waiting to be offended by the latest headline or the next Facebook status we disagree with. Unfortunately, I don’t think this divisive language is going anywhere soon, and we can’t control what others are saying online or at the dinner table, but what we can control is how we react.
When it comes to being offended by someone else’s comments or actions, we have a choice. We don’t have to let it affect our mood or our emotions. Yes, we can actually overlook an offense. We don’t have to do something about it right then and there.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11
If we are not careful, we can easily become paralyzed by all of the comments, headlines, and statuses that frustrate us. We will wake up one day and realize that we are living a life defined not by peace, love, and joy, but by constantly being on the defense. The tension in our society is sky-rocketing, and I think it’s because we value our own opinion far more than we value our love and care for others, no matter their beliefs.
Though, looking over an offense is a lot easier said than done. I could repeat, “Hard to offend. Quick to forgive,” all day long, but that won’t keep me from getting hurt by what someone else says to me. So, how do we actually avoid getting offended and hurt at every little thing? I believe it has to do with our security in Christ. Let me explain.
I am defined by my identity in Christ alone, not in myself, in my ideas, or in the way others perceive me. If I’m confident in who I am and Whose I am, others should be able to say whatever they want, but, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will not be moved to selfish anger. Though, if my security and identity are rooted in myself, then my foundation will undoubtedly be shaky, and I am much more likely to get offended.
But even so, He forgives.
Listen, there will be times when someone does or says something to you and I that might merit hurt feelings. And that is why the second part of this phrase is so important. Quick to forgive. The only way we will be able to do this is by looking to the One who, despite our sin and betrayal, forgave us unconditionally. We did not deserve grace from Jesus one bit. But even so, He forgives. And His word says to us:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Colossians 3:12-13
Let’s break down the walls of offense and unforgiveness and get back to living a life marked by compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and love. Hard to offend. Quick to forgive.
Caitlin Jordan is the assistant editor for TheCourage. She is passionate about the importance of transparency and loving those that disagree with Christian beliefs. Caitlin lives with her husband, Ryan, in Dallas, Texas.