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Chapter 23 - Not Being Offensive
Since relationships are difficult enough (especially in today’s society), we need to insure that there is not that within us which causes other people to be offended. This does not mean that we adopt an artificial persona to exude charm. However, we need to recognize those things that we do or say that are needlessly off-putting.
1. Unnecessarily critical. If we are inclined to injudiciously express our observations, others may see us as self-righteous, intemperate, and judgmental. Such observations, if they are accurate and helpful, are best reserved for a time when they might be asked for.
A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards. - Proverbs 29:11
2. Idiosyncratic. There are habits, manners of speech, or dress that we have that can irritate and annoy others. It is the nature of the unsaved or those less mature in their Christian faith to draw their comfort from their surroundings more than from God. As a result, anyone who is less able to blend in to those surroundings is often given a wary glance and a skeptical look. Care should be taken not to be unnecessarily unsettling.
And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 1 Corinthians 9:20-22
3. Burdensome. One can be seen as appearing to require too much time or effort to sustain a relationship. This can be difficult to gage as people are not always willing to disclose their discomfort level. We might come across as emotionally needy or clingy and make someone feel that we are demanding too much if their time.
Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee. - Proverbs 25:17
4. Abrasive. A habit of telling people they are wrong may not contribute to the depth or length of a relationship. If such observations cannot be contained, they might better be packaged as suggestions or offered for possible consideration.
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. - Titus 3:2
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. - Colossians 4:6
5. Indulgent. A person may enjoy drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, or gambling. However, he should be aware that not everyone considers such activities as pleasant and may find that some are less inclined to relationship with those who pursue them.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. - Philippians 4:5
6. Pushing too hard. Sometimes even good intentions can lead a person to offer unsolicited advice, become pushy, or even allow exhortation to become coercion. If we think another person is in error or has insufficient understanding, we should not allow ourselves to presume to be their teacher. There is danger that smugness can lead to contempt.
And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. - Romans 2:19-20
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: - Luke 18:9
7. Negligent. Relationships are dynamic and are either growing or fading. Inattention, either through concern with other relationships and activities or the intentional dialing back to end or diminish a relationship can be welcome or hurtful. We should give consideration to those with whom we have established relationships to make sure that they are not feeling 'jerked around'.
Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; . - Proverbs 27:10a
By removing or reducing that in us that can offend others we do not want to follow a path that conforms us to the world so that others find us acceptable. Rather we are maturing in Christ such that that of self which poisons relationships begins to diminish as it is replaced by the selflessness of love for others.
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