Friday, February 28, 2014

To Offend or Not to Offend....That is the Question

Many years ago when my husband and I were dating, we visited my grandmother for the weekend. On Sunday we attended church and were invited out for home made pizza following the evening service to the home of someone I have known all my life. This was in the day when everyone dressed up for church: you know the whole deal, high heels, Georgette dresses or blouses and skirts, pantyhose,  hair perfectly coiffed and make up just right. Maybe you're not old enough to remember those days but suffice it to say I was not comfortable and certainly did not want to eat home made pizza in my good dress. So I went back to my grandmother's house to change into my jeans and a t-shirt (pizza eating clothes). 

When we arrived at our host's home and knocked on the door, our hostess met us at the door and was visibly upset. She looked me up and down and said "oh, you're in dungarees." I immediately knew I had offended her so I apologized, to which she responded "well, it is the Lord's day after all." I quickly excused myself, went back to my grandmother's house and put on a jean skirt and returned to enjoy the pizza that had been prepared for us. 

Over the years, this particular person has since relaxed her clothing restrictions and I have had many people tell me that they wouldn't have left to change and then return. But even after all these years I know I would still do the same thing all over again. The Word tells us time and time again not to cause offense. 

Romans 14:13
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

1 Corinthians 8:13
Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won't cause my brother to fall. 

2 Corinthians 6:3
We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.

Knowing that it is wrong for us to cause offense can really help us in dying to self and living for Christ. Are we willing to put aside our pride? I can admit that when I realized she was offended by my 'dungarees' the rebellion rose up in me and I was, for a moment, mad. I could have just pushed passed her and sat down to eat the pizza, after all she had invited me and didn't tell me that I shouldn't change out of my church clothes. She shouldn't have been so judgmental and 'religious'. Oh yes, all sorts of thoughts rose up in me, but none of them were very edifying or Christlike. 

I'm thankful that the Holy Spirit spoke to me and that I listened and realized that after all this was her home and I was a guest and if she had a problem with me wearing pants on the Lord's day then I shouldn't knowingly offend her. If I had insisted on wearing the offensive pants, no one would have enjoyed themselves. There would have been terrible tension on both sides. Instead by laying down my pride and doing the right thing, we had a lovely evening and have enjoyed good fellowship all through the years. I could have offended and lost a sister-in-the-Lord but instead I have retained her friendship, God was honored because I didn't allow rebellion to win the day and yes, the pizza was incredible.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that loves is not " rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;" Even if we think someone's rules and standards are ridiculous, we will do more to either win them for the Lord or to retain our testimony if we are willing to show them love. Ask the Lord to search your heart today and see if there are any areas you can work on that cause offense to others and be willing to lay down your pride and your 'rights' and show them love. God bless.

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