4 Heart Choices that Drive Away Fear and Offence

Turret Arch from the Windows Loop in Arches National Park, Utah
Turret Arch from the Windows Loop in Arches National Park, Utah

The other day, I was tempted to be offended.  I don’t remember what it was even about.  Offense is so easy to pick up because 1) it’s simple to be offended by any type of perceived (or real) injustice, and 2) it almost always is rooted in the fear in our lives, and fear – being the opposite of love – is powerful enough to define our decisions, our thoughts, our emotions, and ultimately our lives.

Wildrose Peak Trail in Death Valley National Park, California
Wildrose Peak Trail in Death Valley National Park, California

As I quickly backed out from whatever minor thing had tried to pull me under the gulf of offense, I started thinking about the heart stances that keep us from becoming offended.  Not just the antidote that will save you once you’re offended, but the attitudes that will keep your heart far from offense.

Paintbrush flowers on Blackomon Peak, White Cloud Mountains Wilderness, Idaho
Paintbrush flowers on Blackmon Peak, White Cloud Mountains Wilderness, Idaho
  1. Thankfulness.  A thankful heart is less likely to look at someone else and feel FOMO, injustice, or “less than” others.  Sow seeds of thankfulness, and you’ll reap a good crop of contentment – and unoffendableness.  (Also, if you’re tempted to be offended, thankfulness is a great antidote.)
  2. Love.  It’s hard to be offended with a person when you love them dearly.  “Love covers a multitude of sins,” wrote the apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:8).  Again, this is something that’s cultivated – a seed that’s chosen, placed in the ground, watered, weeded, and tended.  The time and choices involved are part of why it must be cultivated early and can’t simply save the day when you suddenly feel offended.
  3. Trust.  As I talked about in the second paragraph, offense is often rooted in fear.  The fear of missing out.  The fear of not having enough.  The fear that someone else will get ahead.  The fear for people you love.  As Psalm 9 says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you” (v.10).  Learning how to trust in God and trust beyond the fear is a process that can take time (even a lifetime).  One way to build trust is to remember the amazing things that God has done in your life.
  4. Joy.  This was where God and I landed as I was thinking through how to keep offense far from my heart.  It’s so difficult to be offended when I’m full of the joy of the Lord.  Joy allows me to give patience and peace to those around me, as well as creating a good environment for the rest of the gifts of the Spirit to flow through me.  Sometimes joy is a choice – but believe me, it’s worth the effort!
Views toward Santanoni Peak from Summit Rock, Adirondack Mountains, New York
Views toward Santanoni Peak from Summit Rock, Adirondack Mountains, New York

The good news is that all of these also drive fear far from us.  It’s hard to be fearful and thankful at the same time.  Trust is the antithesis of fear.  Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18), and it’s nearly impossible to be both fearful and joyful at the same time.  Maybe that’s why Paul repeatedly wrote in his letters to be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18, Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:6, etc.), the Old Testament writers reminded us to trust in God (Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 28:7, Psalm 118:8, etc.), we are told over and over to not be afraid (Psalm 56:3, Isaiah 41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 10:28, etc.), and Paul encouraged the believers to be full of joy (Romans 12:12, Philippians 4:4, Galatians 5:22, Romans 15:13, etc.).  These heart choices and heart stances not only help us to stay away from fear and offense, but they also are essential to live a holy life.

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