Love and … Overlooking an Offense

It seems that many people are easily offended these days.  The more we talk about the need for tolerance, diversity, peace, and harmony, the more we seem to become intolerant, segregated, angry and unruly.  I’m not suggesting we just lie down and allow people to do what they will and forget about being a civilized society (that would be a whole different set of problems). What I am suggesting is to learn to use the true power of love to solve these issues.

Humanity needs to learn the difference between forgiveness and overlooking and offense.  Ever notice that when a public figure is offended by something someone says or does, they talk about it publicly which draws more attention to themselves than it does the actual offense.  They may demand a public apology — completely the wrong way to handle things most of the time. They might even sue the offender or call for their resignation from whatever position they might hold.

“If you turn away from people because of their little mistakes, you’ll always find yourself lonely.”

Was all of that really necessary?  Almost always it is not.  These steps do not usually arise from a heart of concern or even love, but from a heart of hurt, loss, vengeance, and possibly self-importance. For these families who have lost loved ones to violence or at the hand of overzealous police officers, exacting a pound of flesh does nothing but increase tensions. Like the driver with road rage who generously lets others know what their car horn sounds like, it accomplishes little to nothing.  It is just angry noise.  Even those who claim to be Christians can make such noise in their effort to do good. In the book of 1 Corinthians 13.1, the apostle Paul declares, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  With such noise it becomes obvious that the real intent is not peace in our time. Justice is absolutely necessary in this world, but not by the efforts of the offended. There is a structure in place in any civilized society to address issues of justice. Standing up for one’s values and beliefs is one thing; taking the law into our own hands is quite another.

Many times an offense is simply the result of misperception or misunderstanding.  To overlook an offense by another can result in the betterment of both the offender and offended. Love dictates that we think of others ahead of ourselves, not more than ourselves.  This is not in a self-deprecating sort of way, but to give deference out of honor and respect, maybe even compassion.  When we refuse to err on the side of grace and mercy in our hurt, we can easily find ourselves atop a pedestal we created for ourselves from which to look down upon others.  From this lofty vantage point we turn our noses to those who are no more guilty than we are.  If you turn away from people because of their little mistakes, you’ll always find yourself lonely.  Love is about coming alongside and enlightening their path, showing them a better way.  And notice when you light the way for someone else, your path becomes brighter as well.  The moral of this blog?  Love more. Judge less.  That is the power of becoming.

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