O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
   Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
   and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
   and does no evil to his neighbor,
   nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
   but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
   and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15

Recently a couple whom my husband and I lovely dearly, and who dearly love us but don’t know us very well, approached us to discuss their concerns over a recent set of back to back crisis that had occurred in our family.  While their intentions were honorable and intended to encourage and help us, they had the opposite effect. And I’ve been hurting over it ever since.

It’s easy to say, “Forgive them.”  And it’s easy to say, “Have mercy.”  And I know that I have tried to have both for them as I’ve contemplated their words and tried to humble myself to receive them.  Yet, my heart was not following the truth in my soul. I felt so much shame and condemnation, though our friends intended neither.  

Why did I feel like that?

After processing our feelings with each other, with God, with my counselor, and with some trusted and close friends, I realized something.  No matter what your intentions are, correction should never come at the cost of injury to another person. As verse four above says, it’s better to take on a hurt yourself, than to hurt someone else.  

Because our friends love us, and because they were concerned for us, and because they didn’t know us well enough to really know what was fully going on with us, they took it upon themselves to discuss the matter with people who they thought might have more insight into our circumstances.  This became the source of my first wound. Talking about the trauma in our family with other people only lead to more supposition on our situation, and offered no actual truth. Unfortunately, because the people they spoke to also didn’t know our situation very well, they were unable to offer a very accurate picture of our hearts.

Talking about the trauma in our family with other people only lead to more supposition on our situation, and offered no actual truth.

My second wound came in the translation further inaccurate suppositions.  Our friends, likely became more and more concerned for us as they spoke to more and more people who had witness glimpses of our recent trials, and perhaps glimpses of our past actions, and then drew conclusions about us regarding those glimpses.  Again, honest love and concern, led to an inaccurate transcript of all that had transpired. So, when our friends met with us, they had already established in their own hearts a general idea that there were certain issues and were then seeking to help us draw out those issues in confession and repentance.

This was a bad idea.  

They had formed an agenda based on love and concern, that had been built upon conjecture.  

Therefore, while their intentions were honorable, their method had been so tainted by poor information that they were unable to approach the situation with us in a way that truly expressed the love that they have in their hearts for us, and the genuine desire they had to help us walk through correcting bad behaviors.

I was captured this morning by Psalm 15.  It’s all about abiding with God and what dwelling with the Holy One looks like.  And David spells out what that looks like. It is walking blamelessly, doing what is right, speaking truth in his heart, not slandering, not doing evil to his neighbor, not taking up reproach against a friend, who despises evil, honors those who fear the LORD, who takes on hurt himself rather than hurt another, who doesn’t put out money with interest, or take a bribe against the innocent.  But, the fact remains that we can do none of those things on our own. Only with the Holy Spirit of God, the Salvation of the Hand of God through Jesus, by the power of God the Father, can we even begin to mirror these things. Sure, we can try. But if we start to source our thoughts and actions on the opinions of others, we head down a road that leads to nothing but hurt, and the ramifications of that can be devastating.

I was devastated by the encounter we had with our friends, even though I know that was never, ever their intent.  

But because they had come by their information about the situation from others and not from us and from God, it was doomed from the start.  Fortunately, our Lord is a reconciling God. He is a God of healing, love, and restoration. So, even through the pain of that conversation and the subsequent days that followed, my husband and I began to find peace.  

We gained a deeper insight into how to walk the path of “speaking the truth in love” with a much deeper understanding of what that should look like.  I learned that how I source information is vital to reconciling a situation. My source must be the Lord and the people directly involved alone, not the opinion of friends or family, or even my own!  

I also learned that without a personal experience in a situation or deep relationship with someone, I’m not capable of bringing specific instruction or correction to a situation without first talking to the people involved.  Our friends sought advice from too many people before they spoke to us, and unfortunately that skewed the entire outcome. Am I saying we shouldn’t take counsel from trusted friends in the faith who have wisdom and experience?  Of course not! But, counsel must be sourced from the Word of God, and not the opinions of the people who have witnessed the incident. When our friends sought counsel, it should have been about how to approach the situation, not about the situation itself.  

How many times have I fallen into gossip by seeking counsel from someone I trusted and then falling into the trap of the enemy to start basing my opinions on a person without knowing all the facts?  How many times have I spoken to someone just to express my frustration or concern, when I should have just given it to God, or spoken directly with the person that offended me?

I’ve also been humbled, which I am in constant need of learning.  I’ve gained practice in patience and endurance when I’m misunderstood.  And I’ve learned that how others see me and interpret my actions is usually wrong, so I better be as “above board” as I can about my intentions, my actions, and my complete dependency upon God and not myself (or others.)  And that even when I think I’m right, I could actually be wrong.  Shocker!  I need to be humble enough to let the Lord show me things, without beating myself up or walking in shame or condemnation.  And if I start to feel shamed or condemned by another person, I need to speak up, instead of silently suffer.  Once I go there, I’ve lost touch with the Spirit of the Lord within me because of my hurt.

Most importantly, I’ve gotten the sharp reminder from the Lord, that my value cannot be measured on a man’s scale.  I’ve always tried to honor the Lord in my actions, and raised Him up when I’ve been called to account for myself, but I’ve also made excuses for bad behavior.  And I’ve allowed my heart to be swayed by pride, insecurity, and a desire to be accepted.  Of course I should always lift up the Lord.  I should always testify to His power at work in my weakness.  I just need to make sure that when I do that I am speaking from my weakness and not my pride.

I am accepted by God.  That’s all that matters. So, I will try to speak the truth to others with more love than I have in the past by trying to source my love from the Spirit of the Living God within me, rather than from any power of my own.  And I will try to receive the truth spoken to me in love, even if it is poorly executed, by sourcing my translation of those words through the filter of the Holy Spirit instead of my feelings.

Man, Daddy, that’s some deep stuff.  Thanks for helping me figure it out. I love you, Holy Spirit, for giving me peace.  And Jesus, you are my greatest delight. Because of You, I can do all things through You.  Even deal with hurt feelings. I feel much better, now, God. Thank you.

 

One thought on “Dealing with Offense

  1. Gossip is devasting. It involves other people and lots of assumptions. God hates it. My heart goes out to you. Yet, we are called to forgive and let it go. Forgiveness brings so much freedom to the one who forgives. It makes it so much easier to walk life’s journey. Abundant blessings and hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

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