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Maybe you’re like me. I love being offended. Oppsss. Did I actually write that? Do I really want to confess to that? But sadly, it’s true. There’s something satisfying about being offended. But then I begin to understand the truth about what it means to be offended, and I’m sad to think of my sin. Yes, sin.
Being offended is actually a defensive way of saying, “You’re seeing me in a way that I am determined you won’t see me.” Or “You’re treating me in a way that I am determined no one will treat me.” It’s a form of anger that deals in an ungodly method to prevent being exposed or having a goal blocked.
Pastor and author Tim Keller writes in The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, “People sometimes say their feelings are hurt. But our feelings can’t be hurt! It is the ego that hurts—my sense of self, my identity…It is very hard to get through a whole day without feeling snubbed or ignored or feeling stupid or getting down on ourselves. That is because there is something wrong with my ego. There is something wrong with my identity.”
Instead of the words “being offended,” we can use other words that seem acceptable, even righteous: like “being hurt.” Regardless of the wording, it easily turns into resentment and bitterness if it’s not curtailed by accepting God’s view of us and trusting his sovereign control over everything that happens to us.
Along with not abiding in our inheritance in Christ, being offended is also a way of saying, “God doesn’t know what he’s doing because I am more important and valuable than to be treated like this.” It’s a diversionary tactic saying, “Don’t see me the way this situation seems to be reflecting me.”
Isaiah 49:7 says,
Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
God is identifying how Israel thinks of itself: despised, abhorred, and a servant. After all, at this time, it’s true: the Israelites are despised, abhorred, and in servitude because they are exiles in Babylon. Without trust and faith in God, they could be justified in calling themselves by those terms.
But what is God’s solution and perspective in that verse? The ones who regard Israel as abhorred will eventually “prostrate” themselves by honoring Israel. Why? Because God has their back. He has chosen Israel as his own. It’s all about God’s view of Israel, not anything else.
Later in the chapter, Zion/Israel whines, “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me’” (verse 14).
Zion complains that because of the difficult circumstances it is going through, God has forsaken her. Sounds like she is looking for justification for being hurt and offended.
What is God’s reply?
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
Your builders make haste;
your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
Lift up your eyes around and see;
they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, declares the Lord,
you shall put them all on as an ornament;
you shall bind them on as a bride does. (verses 15-18)
At this point in Israel’s history, they are exiled captives in Babylon and the walls of Jerusalem are crumbled and ruined. From all outward appearances, their self-evaluation is correct. Just like the areas of our lives where we are needy, destroyed or hopeless—and everyone else knows it—to our chagrin.
But God says his view of them is more important and that he has a purpose for the difficult circumstances they are facing.
Here are his points:
- You are on my mind as much as a mother nursing her child. A mother thinks a lot about the needs of a nursing child.
- You are engraved on the palms of my hands. Have you noticed that your hands are continually out in front of your sight?
- You don’t see what I see. He has a plan.
- You will look as glorious as a gilded, ornamented bride. Have you noticed that a happy bride is the most radiant person on earth? That’s how Israelites will become, radiating God’s glory.
As you think of your own temptations to be hurt, offended, resentful or bitter, can you identify the root source? It’s distrust of God’s sovereign control and a denial of how he sees you.
I’m glad I had the courage to confess that I love being offended. Now I can ask God to forgive me, heal me, and empower me to see myself the way he sees me!