I wish I were tougher, but I’m easily hurt. I guess that’s because I’m so shocked when anyone points out how imperfect I am, since I consider myself the best me I can be. I mean, I’m doing all the right things, as far as I know. I’m not trying to be bad, stupid or late. I should be getting A’s for effort, not criticism, distrust and rejection for failure. I wish others could see me the way I see me, as always innocent. But they have a different view of me from where they sit, I guess we all have different views of one another, and that’s why we so easily hurt one another, but God’s Word has a way out of the offenses we so often experience. He has a way through the pain and onto toughness and freedom, I just oftentimes forget the way, and I’m guessing sometimes you do to. So let’s consider 8 ways to toughen up and to become less easily offended by considering God and His Word our doorway to freedom and love:
1. Love truth more than being hurt – The truth hurts. It hurts to hear that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t accepted, that you need to work harder. The truth hurts, but who wants to be told a lie and believe it? We all should want to hear and to love the truth. Why? Because the truth is what sets you free, according to John 8:32. Jesus is way, the truth and the life. (See John 14:6) The painful truth is more valuable than a comfortable lie. If you would rather remain blissfully ignorant of a problem in your life than to toughen up and handle the hard truth, you will continue to be hurt by the people who love you, but if you can learn to love the truth more than being hurt, you can be strengthened by the truth rather than damaged by it.
2. Consider others more important – Considering others more important is a dangerous practice to the life of the sin within you. The sinful nature longs to live forever and so it has to insists that you are the most important person in the world. And, if you aren’t the most important person, then you won’t protect yourself from the slights of others. But when you take God’s Word as not only true but helpful to your Spirit, the words “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves,” (Philippians 2:3) become an unexpected friend in the battle against hurt feelings. How many times could you get past on offense if you thought of the offending person as more important than yourself, as having more insight, more wisdom, more knowledge? How many times could you get over things quicker if you allowed humility to do it’s spiritual part in your life and put down your need to be right, to be first, to be better? Considering others more important than yourself doesn’t only offer then the gift of peace, it gives you the gift of being less easily offended and more easily pleased.
3. Put God in their place – I’m not asking you to think of them as God, but for a moment to consider what they are saying as coming from God. Would you be so easily offended if God said to you what they said? Would you be hurt if you knew that God had at least allowed them to say these words to you for the express purpose of making you more like His Son? The next time you are offended think about it like this, think about God using this to improve you, not to destroy you. Tell yourself that this person is only sent to help you, to teach you a lesson you desperately need to learn, not telling you how they feel, but being used by God as a conduit of His love. How would this perspective toughen you up emotionally?
4. Put yourself in their place – This can be one of the hardest things to do, but it can help both of you if you can put yourself in their place. Consider why they are saying what they are saying. Consider why you might say the same thing in the same situation, maybe you even have. When we love others we are tough enough to walk a mile in their uncomfortable shoes in order to understand them. Love doesn’t throw up a hand and reject another’s feelings, but wants to know what it must be like to feel the way they feel. When you can begin to practice putting yourself where they are, you can begin to whittle away at your easily offended bone.
5. Love – The opposite of love is not hate as many believe. The opposite of love is selfishness. In selfishness we cannot love another because we are putting ourselves first, we are doing all the things we do out of self-protection and self-interest, and that is where the offense comes in. Self-protection gets to work when an offense is made, attempting to keep the pain away, to shelter you from the offender, but self-protection only harms the relationship as selfishness takes precedence over love. God’s Word tells us that love always assumes the best out of people, not the insult, not the attack, not the rejection. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” The person who loves is not easily offended because they bear all things in the name of love, they don’t reject all things in the name of selfishness.
6. Patiently endure evil – Evil, by definition, is a bad thing. No one wants to allow evil to have its way in their lives, but while God doesn’t want you to invite evil into your life, He insists that it is coming and this is what He says to do about it, He says, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.” (2 Timothy 2:24) Did you see that, patiently endure evil, that’s what He said. Many times the offense you are experiencing is not meant to help you but to harm you, but like Joseph you can say, “what you intended for evil, God intended for good” (See Genesis 50:20). That means that you can be tough enough to endure the evils that others might send your way because you have a God who you can trust to not only redeem them but to use them for a good that may have otherwise never come your way, like Joseph becoming second in command to Pharaoh and saving his entire family. You can’t know why God allows a thing in your life, but you can know that He works it together for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28)
7. Share the grace – God’s grace to us is that He doesn’t count our sins against us, and in return He wants us to have that same kind of mercy on others who sin against us. In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, Jesus said, “And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33) What a shame to receive God’s grace every time you sin and then not to offer it to your fellow sinners to the same degree. We would benefit from remembering that there is no one who is righteous, not one (see Romans 3:10) and looking forward to offering them grace from time to time, if not on a daily basis.
8. Take up the Mission of God – The mission of God is that you agree with His Word, that you accept His will and that you trust His wisdom. The mission of God is for you to become more like His Son, to love those who hurt you, and to forgive them for they know not what they do. The mission of God is your mission on earth.
The mission of me is self-protection and self-improvement. The mission of me is selfish and does not love. In order to toughen up to the pain of being easily offended we all must lay down the mission of me and embrace fully the mission of God. When we are no longer on our own assignment, but taking our orders and our direction from the Father, then we will be like a soldier who doesn’t take offense from His commanding officer but instead endures trials patiently knowing that is the way the battle is won.
We all want to be tougher, I mean no one wants to spend their life being hurt by the words and actions of others, but oftentimes that’s what we subconsciously practice, being easily offended as we concentrate on the actions of others over the actions of God. But God doesn’t want us to focus on the sin but on the Savior. Today, let go of your need to be seen as perfect, embrace your fellow sinners, offer them grace, love them, put yourself in their place, and see God in the circumstance, trust Him over everyone else and know that He is there and He is actively working in each moment of your life, even in insults and rejection and join me as I go from being so easily hurt to being easy to love.