Small Offenses

I believe that each one of us has certain things that irritate us, in the least and may even inflame us, at the most extreme level.  So many times it is these small habits or irritations that cause great descension in our relationships with others, particularly with those very close to us like spouses or significant others.  Depending on how we react to these small irritations will determine our level of happiness with others, and with life in general.  On the July 13th on-line devotional by Os Hillman he writes of these small irritations from a totally different perspective.  A perspective that is not only interesting, but I believe, very right-on.  I will quote Os’ description:

“Overlooking Offenses TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman Wednesday, July 13 2011

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

“I have a friend who tells a story of a lesson the Lord taught him through his wife. It seems that every time he and his wife would get in the car to travel somewhere, his wife had a strong need to direct his driving. She would tell him where to turn and when to turn, even in their own subdivision. It was such a horrible habit that it drove my friend crazy and became the source of many an argument. Finally, one day my friend concluded that the Lord was trying to teach him something through this experience. He decided he would let go of his need to be free from this correction. He began to affirm his wife and even thank her for her input. It was excruciatingly painful to do this from where he sat. A few months passed. He let go of the entire situation and actually got to a place where it just didn’t matter to him anymore. An interesting thing happened a few months later. One day his wife looked at him and said, “John, I just realized that I have been directing your driving all these years and now realize why I do that. It goes back to my childhood when I had to direct my younger brothers and sisters. I am so sorry I have been doing that.” My friend nearly fell out of his seat!

“Whenever we work close to another person, whether in an office or home, small offenses can become the source of great conflict. Resentment and irritability soon follow. God brings these “offenses” into our lives to develop character qualities in us. He uses individuals in our lives to accomplish his goal of making us more Christ-like. So the next time you complain or resist a habit or action from someone close to you, ask God if it has been placed there to develop some quality in you. Pride is the root source of the need to change another person. A man’s wisdom gives him patience-to let go of little offenses. This is where spiritual maturity is seen in the day-to-day activity of life.

“Is there someone close to you who has some habit you really want to change? Give up that desire to the Lord. Who knows, He may even change it after you let go of the need to change it.”

I believe that to look at other’s habits that we find irritating or maybe even offensive is a “test of character” being put to us.  Do we get upset and angry, or do we simply accept this as part of the person’s quirky nature.  We all have habits and idiosyncrasies that we may not even be aware of that may irritate others around us.  And we all find ways to justify those little idiosyncrasies as just something we do.  We certainly don’t mean to offend others with our actions.  We truly want to be understood and accepted — small habits and all, so why do we not extend that same courtesy to others, especially our spouses, family members or close friends?  We have high expectations of others to be perfect when often times we want to be accepted and loved unconditionally. 

I believe that whenever you find yourself getting irritated you need to stop and look at the reversing side of the offense.  Like the man with his direction-giving wife, remember that the relationship of that person is much more important then you verbally making your irritation known.  This is how good relationships either die or flourish.


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