The Jailer of Offense

1Peter 4:1-2 (the message)  Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him.  Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way.  Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.

This scripture is loaded!  As I read it this morning I knew the timing was right and I needed to hear all that is said in these 2 short verses.  Sometimes I suffer not because of a calamity but because it hurts my “flesh” or pride when people are not behaving the way I think they should…if I find myself or someone I love being mistreated or I find myself offended by the choices of others.  Oh how I would like to think I am mature enough not to be offended!  But then…I find myself in the grip of a “wrong” against me.  Thoughts of “this isn’t right” run laps in my mind and make the hand-off to my churning emotions.  What do I make of it when someone makes a choice that isn’t fair or hurts me? 

I read those verses above and am reminded once again that regardless of what choices others make it is always my choice, right from the start–especially at the start!– to either stop and talk with God about it or submit to the tyrannical rule of offense.  In the end what I see is that my offense only reveals my need to be further “weaned” from needing my own way.  Well, what about what is “right?”  What about when someone truly is making self-centered, hurtful choices?  Perhaps that person is also under the stranglehold of “needing” to have their own way.  See, being “tyrannized” is equivalent to torture..being over- powered by an outside force.  Needing to have my own way in order to remain peaceful on the inside means I am hostage to an outside force…something/someone  I can’t control.  Is it possible to remain peaceful, live outside of the tyranny of my own way, even when I am mistreated?  I believe it requires a very consistent and regular reminder that having our own way is not even comparable to living in the freedom to pursue what God wants.  God always knows what is best for us…He always has our best at heart and wants to work it into and out of our everyday lives.  So, for me, this past week has been a needed reminder–hard on my pride–but a needed reminder.  I know Jesus loves me and wants to help me develop and grow as a person so sometimes I think He lets me crash into something I don’t see coming in the behavior of others…a chance to grow, to say “I trust you, God, even if I don’t understand what is going on.”  In trusting God with every hurt or misunderstanding I am choosing to be free of it…shouting a loud “Oh no, you don’t!” to the jailer of offense.  And when I do indeed find myself handcuffed to offense thank God I know He has given me the key to freedom…forgiving the offender.

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