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Chapter 24 - Not Taking Offense
Because relationships are two sided, we need to consider that in addition to removing that within ourselves that is offensive, we have to be able to tolerate that in others that might offend, annoy, or unsettle us.
One can often observe the joy that grandparents take in small children that is sometimes missing with young parents. This reflects a little of the maturity, selflessness, and perspective that the accumulation of experience over the years can produce. If we focus too much on our tasks, goals, and objectives, we may not be able to 'stop and smell the flowers'. In addition to missing joy in life, we may see the world more in terms of annoyances.
We can see from the bible an example of two sisters. One stops what she is doing to listen to Jesus. The other works to prepare food for the visitors. The second sister did not chose to do her work out of selfless love, but out of obligation and was resentful that her sister was not helping her. The response of Jesus was that the first sister was not negligent but in choosing to postpone the work had prioritized things in order of importance to her.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. - Luke 10:38-42
There are frequently instances in which we encounter the need to select or prioritize what we are to do. For example, if a man comes across a grass fire, he makes a determination of what direction it is headed, what the wind is doing, what types of vegetation are burning, and what lies in the path of the fire. From this he can decide where his actions can best be applied and what can be allowed to burn until he can get to it.
Many people today start their families apart from their own parents. They enjoy the freedom from criticism and unsolicited advice they would receive if their parents were in residence. However, they often miss the perspective that their parents could provide that would help them see what was truly important in life. The song 'Cats in the Cradle' tells a sad story of a man who did not have time for his son until he was older when his son did not have time for him. Young people prepared by school for work often have the extended selfishness of childhood coupled with an exaggerated view of material significance such that they have a lower value of relationships, even within their own families. The phrase, 'Too soon old, too late wise' captures a little of this.
Much of this distortion impressed upon youth comes from systems instituted by Satan for this express purpose. The Christian has an advantage in access to the wisdom from God and discernment that the Holy Spirit can provide, he has the opportunity to see in life that which is of real value.
One advantage older people have is that they can more clearly see that their life is drawing to a close. This often helps put into perspective what is really important. A woman once was reluctant to attend her twenty year High School reunion. This was because at the ten year reunion she was not comfortable with everyone strutting about trying to impress each other with their income, social importance, material acquisitions, and achievements. When she returned from the twenty year reunion, she commented that people were much more relaxed as the ambitions they had ten years earlier had been largely abandoned and were able to adapt to value other things in life.
It is important to understand the influence of modern life on younger people as it explains much of the difficulty young Christians have with relationships in general. The combination of limited time, selfish interests, intolerance of annoyances, and (like Martha) a disproportionate focus on tasks, work to impoverish young Christians so that they remain isolated from those who would be able to help them.
In addition to time and tolerance, the Christian should be prepared to extend mercy and compassion. This grows out of a maturing love (selflessness) that indicates that we are growing in Christ-likeness.
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. - Mark 6:34
Compassion, understanding, and tolerance can be employed up to a point. Those who are unsaved or Christians who are unwilling to go on to Christian maturity, can become a hazard to our own faith that hinders our own growth in the Lord. For this reason, we should discern those relationships that have the potential for mutual edification and those that have the potential to be dangerous.
And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. - Luke 9:5
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. - Matthew 7:6
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. - Galatians 6:1
If we consider that those of us who are Christian represent the 'foolish things of the world', we should expect that we will annoy each other more than normal. This makes the admonition (frequently given) that we love one another especially important.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; - 1 Corinthians 1:27
As a general guideline, we should view the extension of tolerance and forbearance to others in terms of what aids in the building up of the body of Christ. Sometimes loving admonition is also appropriate.
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. - Ephesians 4:16
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