You hear the phrases “I needed this” and “this really spoke to me” thrown around a lot. I’m very reluctant to use them. Partly because I think they water down the discourse, partly because I’m loathe to go with the flow when it comes to everything. (Everyone else is doing it, so I’m going to avoid it like the plague.)
If you’re going to offend someone, offend them with love. So overwhelm them with love and grace that they’re disgusted by it. Preach the Gospel so clearly and winsomely that they’re turned off by a God who loves and cares for them that much. Offend them with a community that loves and accepts them for who they are…people made in God’s image. Offend them with radical forgiveness. Offend them with scandalous grace.
I’m not a pleasant person. Yes, I’m friendly, but not in a “come on in and set for a while, I’m glad to see you” kind of friendly. More of a “I’m bound by societal conventions and the Golden Rule to be polite, so I guess you can come inside until it’s time for you to leave” kind of friendly. If something (or someone) bothers me, I get crankier than Walter Matthau with low blood sugar.
When I read certain things online, I get… irritated. I get frustrated and start saying things that really aren’t a good testament. I lower myself to the very level of discourse that irritates me, which in itself irritates me more. It’s a nasty spiral, and I’m not good at countering it. I need to remind myself to allow James 1:19 to guide my actions: “…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Even more blunt and to the point is Proverbs 29:11, “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” Translation: Shut your mouth, dummy. Is getting mad and spouting off at them going to fix anything? No. I might feel better in the short term, but those words don’t speak at all to gentle spirit of forgiveness that is supposed to dwell within me.
So how do we respond, if not with righteous indignation and the hammer of God? Proverbs 25:21-22. “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”
Forgive those who irritate and offend you. Pray for them. Respectfully disagree, give your opinion in a kind, well-reasoned way, and move on. Realize that not everyone will be receptive to your view; don’t cast your pearls to swine. Most importantly, stop and think that you might not be right anyway. How would you feel if, after penning a 1,000 word diatribe of bile and vitriol, you came to realize that the other person wasn’t in the wrong, but you were?
Kill them with kindness. Love them. There’s only one being in this entire universe who knows everything, and we aren’t Him.