Do you know offensive people who are unkind and mean—opposing political party members, insensitive relatives, cruel neighbors, or a jerk for a boss?
Perhaps you feel unappreciated or unacknowledged by those you serve.
Opportunities for offense are a common experience for a Christ follower. In fact, such opportunities are a sign that you truly are a Christian. It’s part of the pattern.
(I’ve been tracing this pattern for a long time, and I still have a lot to learn about it. Most of us do.)
Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus serving those who did not appreciate him in return. Most of the people he served were takers, not givers. Some planned his murder. Only a few decided to follow him in exchange for the life he was giving them. Yet Jesus still continued to give.
Jesus’ secret to offensive people
Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing (see John 5:19), and God’s behavior is to show kindness without expecting appreciation or acknowledgment in return.
That’s the pattern Jesus followed. Even to murders (see Luke 22:47-51).
For those who hang out with Jesus, that’s the pattern they follow.
Basically it means lots of guts and no glory.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” lend to “sinners,” expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6:32-35 IV 1984).
You have to hang close to Jesus to be able live this level of kindness. You’ll wear out fast if you try this on your own.
Hanging out with Jesus looks like ongoing conversations with him throughout your day, digging in his diary (the Word) to see how he thinks and acts, and letting go of expectations.
I hope your holidays are seasoned with being “kind to the ungrateful and wicked”—kindness and giving without the need for acknowledgement or appreciation.
You won’t be alone. There are a lot of Christ followers out there. They just don’t focus on themselves much. They are too busy tracing the pattern and clinging to Jesus.
Your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
“Jesus likes it when we share.” -Adelaide, age 3: Pass this along to everybody and their brother. OK, maybe not everybody’s brother, but you know . . . all of your friends would be nice.
More on offense:
For practical instructions on how to handle offense, see chapters 5 and 6 in my book, Help, I’m Stuck With These People for the Rest of Eternity!: Christian Advice on Healthy Relationship Characteristics and Making Relationships Work.