There are many ways to quickly kill a relationship. There are obvious things, such as not returning phone calls, gossiping about
your friend, always making everything about yourself, being excessively needy, or even just plain abusive. These things will kill a relationship faster than a speeding bullet.
There are also subtle ways to kill a relationship. Sometimes these are so subtle, we don’t even realize it is happening.
One such example that I have observed is to become offended at someone (whether you are rightfully offended or not) and to begin seeing only the negative aspects of that person(s) and your relationship.
This results in an inflated sense of what is negative (in your opinion), and then leads to exaggeration of the negative and culminates in division and separation. And if left unresolved, this can lead to bitterness.
In reality there is both good and bad aspects (to varying degrees) in any situation.
Experiences are rarely completely bad or perfectly good.
Here is a made up, but common, real world example:
Ralph works in the marketing department in a large advertising firm. The job really fits Ralph’s personality, he enjoy’s his coworkers, and makes a good living. Life is pretty good.
One day, a promotion opportunity comes to Ralph’s attention. Ralph applies for this promotion and competes with several of his coworkers, but he does not get the promotion.
Ralph becomes offended towards his coworker that received the promotion, and his boss who is in charge of choosing the best candidate. Suddenly, Ralph is wearing a different shade of glasses. Everything looks different. There is something wrong with everything. Work becomes miserable and Ralph convinces himself that everyone is against him.
In reality, all that has changed is that one of Ralph’s coworkers received a promotion. Rather than being happy for this person, Ralph focuses only on himself and what he didn’t receive.
Eventually, Ralph convinces himself that he would be better off in another department like finance, so he takes an opportunity to transfer into a different group. And because nothing in the previous group was resolved, the cycle starts all over again.
(You can change this scenario to fit just about any setting.)
5 Things Ralph Could Have Done Differently
1. Ralph could have decided ahead of time that even if he was the most qualified person for the promotion, the results were out of his control, and there was no reason to be upset with others if someone else got the promotion instead. While this might not be fair, it is the reality of the situation.
2. Ralph could have resisted being offended and instead taken the opportunity to learn about his work performance.
3. Ralph could have honestly and respectfully shared his thoughts with his boss about the promotion. Of course, there’s no guarantee that this goes well, but it’s better than holding things in and becoming bitter.
4. Ralph could have chosen to keep a positive outlook and respect his coworkers despite the difficult situation.
5. Ralph could have continued to see the blessings in his position rather than become obsessed with the perceived negatives.
Being Offended Is A Killjoy
Ralph, like many others in his shoes, allowed his offendedness to kill his joy. The new glasses he was looking through colored everything mud.
In the real world, we are faced with both good and bad situations. I know I often wish I only had to deal with fun, cheery, exciting situations. But that is just not in the cards. Life is hard. It is full of incredible joy and unbearable suffering.
Don’t Hear What I’m Not Saying
I’m certainly not saying that you should ignore hard situations and just put on a smile. This is another way to kill a relationship: pretending there is nothing wrong when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Part of life is learning how to deal with such things in a healthy way instead of sweeping them under the rug.
Remember Who The Accuser Is
Don’t forget that it is Satan who is The Accuser of the Brethren. Always, always, always steer clear of accusing others of something unless it is blatantly obvious, and even then you should approach the person in the way you would want to be approached. When you fall into accusing others you are doing the work of the enemy.
Community life among the saints is a breeding ground for this type of thing to happen. The more time you spend in face-to-face relationships, the more opportunity there will be for offense to rear its ugly head. But that means there is just as much opportunity to walk things out in Christ’s life together, to love each other as Christ has loved us, to honor each other above ourselves, and to grow together and experience more of Him. Strive to “clothe yourselves” with Christ and walk in His love and forgiveness.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. (Colossians 3:12-17, NLT, emphasis mine)
Don’t live in offense…
Follow the Life!
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