When Offended

The issue is not so much who is more right than whom. The issue is who is more in love with the Incarnate Word. For it is out of the wellspring of this self-giving love that we find a secret better than the joy of being vindicated. It is the joy of being understood by the One who sees us.

If the meta-narrative of my life is that of the righteous victim entitled to compensation, then I am assured of a long, uphill climb to an elusive summit–and a lonely summit at that. (For to succeed in justifying myself is to also succeed in isolating myself.) But if my meta-narrative is that of the bondservant reporting to his Master (a Master with scars testifying the extent of His love for me), then I am liberated from the craving to be vindicated.

And if my Master is alive and able to sift the wheat from the chaff in what I am thrown under the bus for, He is able to pull me out from under the bus. He is able to turn my wounds into wisdom and my bruises into blessings. If my Master is alive, He is able to confront those who have confronted me: He whose name is Faithful and True is just as committed to sifting those who sift me as He is to helping me mature.

This is how I overcome offense, then: by faith that my Defender is perfect in His covenant love for me, committed to my good, and creative in using the clumsy bruisings of Man for my good. By placing my trust in the One who is unseen, I create space for Him to move. I give justice to Him, vengeance to Him, and I am freed up to move on in following Him while He takes care of what has injured me.

Offenses have been useful servants to me. They have shown me that my authorities–gifted, brilliant, strong, and time-efficient–are, in the end, made of clay. They are mere Men, vessels in which the Lord has deposited precious treasure, to be sure; Men after God’s heart whose lives model a devotion, wisdom and maturity superior to mine–but mere Men nonetheless.

Offenses are also excellent errand boys in revealing my immaturity. For if I were mature, I would forgive quickly, receive the sting gladly, turn the other cheek, and go the extra mile. But when retaliation or self-justification are my response to being dishonored, misunderstood, or rejected, it reveals I have at work in me a condition I need saving from regardless of how unfairly I have been treated: the death of a fallen flesh that asserts itself, a heart sorely tempted to believe that the goal of life is not love, but power; not intimacy, but influence; not servanthood, but superiority. And this is enough–even if the actual thing done against me is wrong–to eclipse all human errors and grieve over my own. He is the innocent Lamb who silences both my mouth and the mouths of those whose words or actions have wounded me. His wounds are enough to disarm the whole story and re-write the tale.

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