We are way too easily offended.
The utter inability to let a verbal offense go is becoming one of the defining traits of our generation and that is tragic because taking an offense well is a picture of the Gospel of Jesus.
We need to learn to have thick skin and a tender heart.
The Apostle Paul describes some of the pastors in Rome (where he was being held in chains) this way:
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice…
Some of these pastors had terrible character! They were envious of Paul and saw his ministry as competition. Their ministry was selfish, focused on making them famous and kicking Paul when he was down.
These guys were using their pulpits to preach Jesus and slam Paul.
His gracious response shows us how to take a verbal punch.
1. Don’t be offended
This is actually your choice in the matter–you can decide not to be offended. When Paul was writing to the Corinthians about Christians fighting with each other, he made the comment, “Why not rather suffer wrong?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)
We don’t like to suffer wrong, but Paul says, “why not?” When we choose to suffer wrong when someone treats us like a jerk, it diffuses the whole situation quickly.
Paul doesn’t make excuses for how these Roman pastors were behaving, but he doesn’t let it get under his skin. His response was “what then?” which can be just as easily be translated “so what?” He treats what they were saying about him matter of factly and moves on.
2. Look for the “Gospel Win”
An opportunity for the Gospel is always lurking in every situation. Recently, a guy at Riverview was telling me about someone who had done something professionally unethical toward him. He was trying to figure out how to turn it into an opportunity to tell him about Jesus and wanted my advice. Instead of getting vindictive, he was trying to find an open door. That is the right attitude!
When we choose not to be offended, we live so counter to our culture that it creates opportunities to share the Gospel.
3. Rejoice in the “Gospel Win” and don’t worry about the offense
Paul says, “in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice… ” It’s almost like he is willing himself to rejoice in the entire situation by focusing on what he can rejoice in: that Jesus’ name was being preached in a city that needed to hear it.
By refocusing his mind on the Gospel, he could celebrate the growing ministry of the jerk pastors in Rome.
That’s how you take a verbal punch.
This post first appeared on Noel’s blog. You can read more from Noel at noeljesse.com.