Sunday, November 4, 2007

"Taking Offense" Article

Today I received a devotional from Life Today called "Taking Offense" by Randy Robison. This devotional compliments our study on The Bait of Satan by giving us an excellent, real-life example of how people often perceive that they are being offended when they really are not.

With the author's permission, I have republished his devotional in full below:

Taking Offense by Randy Robison

“A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11)

Recently, Cody Goodnight walked into a Family Dollar store in east Fort Worth to buy a couple of sodas for his five-year-old son and himself. The clerk, Ricky Young, had some difficulty with the scanner and attempted to make small talk while handling the register. Cody did not respond.

Once the sodas rang up, Cody paid in cash. Ricky felt insulted for being ignored, so he threw the change at Cody, scattering it on the floor. The 31-year-old father bent down to pick it up and at that point, Ricky later told police, muttered a racial slur and threatened him. So Ricky picked up a crowbar from behind the register and clubbed the man behind the ear.

Cody left the store without a word, went home and reported the incident to his mother. She and her husband contacted the police. When officers arrived at the discount store, Ricky was still working. They checked the surveillance video, but it had mysteriously been erased. They took Ricky’s statement claiming racism and self-defense and then informed him of one significant fact.

Cody Goodnight is deaf. When Cody was a toddler, high fever robbed him of his ability to hear. He can make guttural noises, but tries to maintain silence because people have made fun of him. He communicates via sign language.

"When you're deaf, you don't make a point of starting conversations with people," Cody’s mother said. Yet at least one person took offense at this deaf man’s behavior, misconstruing it for disrespect.

Often we take offense -- even when it’s not ours to take. Offense will come our way. We don’t have to go looking for it. When we do, we find offense in places where there is little or no cause for it. This is not simply foolishness, it is dangerous. It can lead to an overblown sense of victimization. Those who constantly take offense begin to feel as if life is not fair or that the world is out to get them. This mindset is diametrically opposed to Jesus declaration that Christians should “rejoice and be glad” when persecuted by the world (Matthew 5:11-12).

Dennis Prager, a brilliant author, lecturer and radio host, calls victimhood “the greatest single cause of evil.” He points out that Nazism arose from a sense of German victimhood, communism from a belief that the working man is the victim and Islamism from the idea that Muslims are victims of an oppressive Jewish-American conspiracy.

“The preoccupation of much of America with telling whole groups that they are victims -- of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and classism, among other American sins -- can only increase cruelty and evil in America,” Prager asserts.

Christians should not give in to the temptation to play the social martyr. We should stand up for our beliefs and defend the assaults on our faith, but never look for reasons to take offense. To the contrary, we must proactively forgive those who offend us, whether that offense is real or merely perceived. Otherwise, we play the part of the angry, bitter, reactionary victim. In that state of mind, we cannot respond with patience and love. Instead, we respond in a manner that genuinely gives offense.

This is true in society, church and family. Taking offense leads to conflict, strife and separation. It is the tool of the enemy. If we are to rise above the sins of this world and truly shine the light of Jesus Christ, we must move beyond giving or taking offense.

This Week: Forgive those who have offended you, just as God forgives our offenses. Resist the temptation to give in to the offenses of the world.

Prayer: “Father, forgive my trespasses, as I forgive those who trespass against me. Help me resist the temptation of victimhood, so that I can be delivered from anger, bitterness and vengeance. Give me your patience and grace so I can radiate your life and love.”

To read about Cody Goodnight’s progress since his attack, visit http://www.codyg.info/

1 comment:

Manfred said...

I have a read a book promoting a doctrinal view I disagree with. The author's arguments are pragmatic from start to finish, leading me to conclude he has no sound arguments to support his view. I pronounced it to be a wretched book - due to its lack of biblical exegesis for its foundation. My opinion is viewed by a fellow Christian as a verbal assault against another who likes and promotes the book. He claims I have called that man's judgment into question. Is his position not taking offense simply because we disagree on the value of a book? Am I wrong for having an informed opinion that differs from this other person's?