**Recommendation: Scroll to bottom of screen and play video/song while reading this. P.S. I’ll be offended if you don’t
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Most people would describe me as one laid-back, mellow, cool dude. Ok, so maybe I threw in the “cool” part. My reputation as a teacher is rooted in the perception that I’m very calm and not easily angered. For the most part this is accurate, and as a high school emotional support teacher I am very thankful for this. Anger and temper are two areas that God has worked on in my life over the years. There have been many times in the past that I’ve taken to rage as a perceived solution to my problems. Even today I understand that it could rear it’s ugly head at any moment if I’m not careful. In spite of this I’m still a laid-back, mellow, cool dude.
I struggle with being easily offended. I’m overly sensitive, quickly provoked, easily irritated and insulted. Yes indeed, I’m one laid-back, mellow, cool dude, and may I add loving father and husband. It is easy for me to accept hearing the positive qualities listed above, but realize God desires I resolve what He is revealing within me. Honestly, at first I was somewhat offended He might even consider such a thing about me. Uh oh, that sounds a bit like PRIDE.
The challenge begins with first understanding that our perceptions and expectations are seldom, if ever, equivalent to those of our loving Father. It is easy to become complacent and accepting of matters in our life. This is especially true when our measure is based on what others perceive and say, not what we are open to having God reveal to us. Since I’m such a laid-back, mellow, and cool dude, offensives that arise must certainly be because of others. Especially those who are closest to me, in particular, my wife.
The woman who has combined with me to become “one flesh” seems to be the one who can most easily offend me. “Stacy…..” My best friend, oh how I love her. Such a gift and blessing in my life. Thirteen years of marriage, she has never been more beautiful to me. A mother to my children beyond what I could have ever imagined. Someone who does more for me in a day than I do for her in a month. I’d have no problem continuing with statements like these for the next hour, but let her wake up right now, come down here and have the words out her mouth be related to why did I not “carry the laundry basket upstairs” like she asked (and probably twice). The loving thoughts and words I had about her just moments ago, they’d likely quickly be gone, for in my mind “can’t she at least say good morning first.” This is just one example of how quickly an offense can take place.
A situation as described above may not result in a sarcastic response or argument….. yet…. but something subtle changes inside me. Will it be the second, third, fourth, or fifth offense (according to me) that warrants a non-loving response? Uh oh, I just mentioned the word LOVE.
Could there be a connection between our ability to LOVE and the influence of PRIDE in our lives? Yes. Pride is a focus on the “I” in a circumstance. Pride will cause us to view ourselves as the victim. Our attitude becomes, “I was mistreated and misjudged; therefore, I am justified in my behavior.” We then hold back forgiveness because we believe we are falsely accused and innocent. This condition is hidden from us, it is not hidden from God. Left unconfessed, this drives a wedge between our ability to commune with and receive from God, this hinders our ability to love. If we do not have Love, what do we have?
Ecclesiastes 7:9 states, “Do not be quickly provoked in you spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” May we combat this by understanding that pride keeps us from dealing with the truth by distorting our vision. We will never change when we think everything is fine. Pride hardens our hearts and dims our eyes from understanding the sincere truth. It will keep us from the change of heart and repentance that will set us free.
May we ask with a sincere heart that God reveal areas of pride in our life, no matter how subtle. Let them be replaced with love. May our speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer every person. Be Blessed