>All of us become offended sometimes in personal relationships. That is an inevitable part of human life. Human beings are flawed creatures. Think of your own relationships and the number of ways you may have been hurt by seemingly careless or even unkind actions of a family member, coworker, or friend. It happens all the time.
- A coworker is late with an assignment, placing more stress on you.
- Your son or daughter says something hurtful in a fit of anger.
- Your spouse is unresponsive to your need to affection.
- Friends leave you out of a social occasion, and you feel rejected
Our reaction in these situations is to become offended—often rightly so—then become angry, finally leading to a confrontation in which we point out the offense and, perhaps receive an apology, and offer forgiveness.
That is the best course when a relationship is broken.
But what if there were a way to prevent that break in the first place? Consider the teaching of the apostle Peter, given to a group of Christians who desperately needed to be unified while facing tremendous hostility from the society around them. He wrote:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
—1 Peter 4:8
Peter seems to tell us that there is an antecedent to forgiveness that has even greater power to keep human beings in harmony with one another—love.
When I forgive, I surrender my right to be angry.
When I love, I fail to become angry.
When I forgive, I restore a broken relationships.
When I love, the relationship is unbroken.
When I forgive, I free myself from the burden of resentment.
When I love, I carry no burden.
When I forgive, I have come to the end of a painful journey.
When I love, I avoid the pain of insult or personal hurt.
Certainly, someone will point out that loving a spouse or parent or coworker should not give them a license to be abusive or cruel or a habitual “taker” in the relationships. True enough. Peter says that love covers a multitude of sins. He does not say that love for others ignores all offenses, however grave. Confrontation and forgiveness are sometimes necessary.
Yet how much better it is to avoid taking offense over small things in the first place. Love truly is “a more excellent way.”