Recently I read a survey that said that people in the United States would generally agree that there has been a rise in incivility in both the public and private sectors. Sometimes people say that they are not meaning to offend, but they are merely being honest or blunt in order to express themselves authentically. “I’m not being cruel, I’m just being brutally honest.” Then the person that the brutal honesty is directed towards responds in kind, but with an increased sense of outrage that they would be so readily dismissed or devalued. As a result of that the original responder amps up their reaction and the whole thing escalates to a ridiculous level.
How do we avoid the pitfalls of this vicious cycle? The key to how we live, rise above, and shine our light before others so that all glory may be given to our Father in heaven is in prayerfully rejecting our chance to take offense. We have the ability to decide whether we will take offense over someone’s words. We may lack the power to refuse to be bogged down by it and that is where prayer comes in, especially praying the Psalms.
In my distress I cry to the Lord, that he may answer me: “Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from deceitful tongue.”
We would like to think that this is a problem only online in the networks of anonymity, but it happens every day and has been happening throughout the entire history of humankind. Every day, as people interact, there are opportunities where offense could be taken and a defiant or ugly response could be returned. Living a life where you take offense easily or constantly produces a prison cell and chains. We think that we are standing up for ourselves, but instead we are burdening our hearts and souls with an intolerable weight that will drag us down making it impossible for us to live as new creations in Christ.