Choose Not to Be Offended
- It ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else. As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation.
- In many instances, choosing to be offended is a symptom of a much deeper and more serious spiritual malady.
- The Savior is the greatest example of how we should respond to potentially offensive events or situations.
- Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense.
A Latter-Day Learning Laboratory
Elder Bednar likens the church to a learning laboratory.
- The capacity to conquer offense may seem beyond our reach. This capability, however, is not reserved for or restricted to prominent leaders in the Church like Brigham Young. The very nature of the Redeemer’s Atonement and the purpose of the restored Church are intended to help us receive precisely this kind of spiritual strength.
He says that the church was specifically made for dealing with these type of issues.
- The Church is a learning laboratory and a workshop in which we gain experience as we practice on each other in the ongoing process of “perfecting the Saints.” Understanding that the Church is a learning laboratory helps us to prepare for an inevitable reality. In some way and at some time, someone in this Church will do or say something that could be considered offensive. Such an event will surely happen to each and every one of us—and it certainly will occur more than once. Though people may not intend to injure or offend us, they nonetheless can be inconsiderate and tactless. You and I cannot control the intentions or behavior of other people. However, we do determine how we will act. Please remember that you and I are agents endowed with moral agency, and we can choose not to be offended.
A good way to gauge where we are in our spiritual maturity is by looking at how we act when others demonstrate their weaknesses towards us.
- One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others.
- I conclude my message with two invitations.
- I invite you to learn about and apply the Savior’s teachings about interactions and episodes that can be construed as offensive.
- The rigorous requirements that lead to the perfecting of the Saints include assignments that test and challenge us. If a person says or does something that we consider offensive, our first obligation is to refuse to take offense and then communicate privately, honestly, and directly with that individual. Such an approach invites inspiration from the Holy Ghost and permits misperceptions to be clarified and true intent to be understood.
- I suspect all of us are acquainted with members who are staying away from church because they have chosen to take offense—and who would be blessed by coming back. Will you please prayerfully identify a person with whom you will visit and extend the invitation to once again worship with us? Perhaps you could share a copy of this talk with her or him, or you may prefer to discuss the principles we have reviewed today. And please remember that such a request should be conveyed lovingly and in meekness—and not in a spirit of self-righteous superiority and pride.
We each have stories about thoughtless ways that someone has spoken to us, acted towards us, or treated someone we cared about, that has caused us to want to not be around that person or to be offended by their actions. In these trying times, we need to put our faith in Christ and try to act in a way that He would. We need to be more forgiving, more patient, more understanding, and think more about the good we can accomplish for others, rather than feeling offended and hurt by someone's thoughtless or tactless actions. We need to be the bigger person and not let these incidences damage our spiritual journey and our quest to be better disciples of Jesus Christ.