bandage of graceRecently I felt I was intentionally excluded from an electronic conversation. When I first heard about it, I tried to brush it off and said it didn’t bother me, but the truth is – it did. I felt left out and my feelings were hurt; I was offended and old wounds were reopened. Have you ever been offended by someone? I think we have all been offended at some time or another – and we all offend. We are wounded and hurt by the words and actions of others and… we wound and hurt.

Sometimes we are offended by thoughtless words and deeds because our wounded hearts are tender and easily bruised. We carry old hurts like a defensive shield thinking they will protect us from future pain when they really just make us more sensitive. Sometimes offenses are real and intentional; we are left out, ignored, addressed with words of anger or malice, ridiculed and condemned. And sometimes we – the self-perceived righteous – ignore, exclude, or express our obvious distain with polite tolerance. We administer justice by wielding our power to wound and punish, often without any conscience thought that we are acting as judge and jury. We justify our words and actions with thoughts like, “They should have known…” or “What did they expect?” Sometimes we offend without any conscience thought. Sometimes we are the ones who are careless, thoughtless and inconsiderate or we are unaware of the hidden battle scars that others may carry.

My unsuccessful attempt to easily brush off an offense has left me wondering, “How do we treat those wounds of offense – both those we have administered and those we have received?  I think we must first put aside self. It seems we always view words and actions through self-centered eyes because self is always the center of our focus – or at least it always seems to be the center of my focus. And then we should liberally apply grace – both to the wounds we have received and the wounds we have inflicted.

I am reminded of the words of our Lord in Matthew 5:23-24, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” If we have offended either intentionally or unintentionally, we should be quick to ask forgiveness and ask that the Lord give us a heart to see where we have hurt those around us. I pray I will be quick to recognize and lay aside my prideful self justification and ask for forgiveness when I have offended.  And when I have wounded those whom I feel are overly sensitive, I pray for a heart that sees those hidden hurts and overflows with compassion and grace.

When I am offended… when I am hurt and wounded… I pray for grace to see beyond the offense and a heart of compassion to view the situation outside of self and from another’s point of view.  I pray I will lay down my defensive shield and let old hurts heal. I ask for wisdom to remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, “Also take no heed unto all words that are spoken; lest thou hear thy servant curse thee: For oftentimes also thine own heart knoweth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed others. And I pray for a heart that is quick to forgive and forget as I liberally apply the bandage of grace to every offense.