High Prairie Branch,
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Why would they say those words?
Why would they choose that course of action?
How could they think that of me or someone I love?
Who among us has not asked these same questions many times in our own lives? All relationships are prone to contention and judgment, jealousy and carelessness. We are, after all, only mortal.
But we are also spiritual beings and we each have the ability to rise above these mortal feelings. Being offended is actually a choice. No one can offend you; you must choose to be offended.
Being offended is a reaction to the choices of others. While we cannot choose how others will act, we can always decide what our own course of action will be.
How can we choose the better part? What does it mean to choose to be charitable?
In Matthew 5:25 we read: “Agree with thine adversary quickly”. This may imply weakness or giving in, but it means to quickly have kind thoughts toward the other person. When we begin to feel offended do we immediately jump to judging or accusing others, searching for their weaknesses and shortcomings?
Or do we try to put ourselves in their shoes, seeking to understand their good qualities and sincere motives? How rarely we truly understand the circumstances of others unless we truly want to know.
Marvin J. Ashton beautifully observed, “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”
Further in the Sermon on the Mount, Christ instructs us to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
Perhaps the most difficult step of all is to be the bigger person. To rise above the hurt and hope the best for those who wrong us. Letting go of past offenses can seem impossible but can lead to freedom in our own lives.
Let us each seek to see others as Christ sees them, to truly love them with the pure love of Christ, also known as charity.
After all, charity never faileth. [1 Corinthians 13:4-8]