How do you respond to an offense? You know, someone says something or does something that hurts you. How do you react to hurtful actions or words?
Mommy asks her 7-year-old as she pulls him apart from a tussle with a 5-year-old, “Who started this?” The older sibling replies, “It all started when he hit me back!”
Physical response can happen on the playground, sarcastic rejoinders may occur in more “polite” conversation, verbal abuse may be seen in passing or in intimate relationships, some recruit others to side with them against a common foe, and sometimes wiser heads will ignore the slight.
George Bernard Shaw, famous playwright, was about to open his newest play. Though he did not like Winston Churchill, custom demanded that he invite the prime minister to the opening night. He sent an invitation with this note, “Bring a friend ... if you have one.” Churchill replied, “Sorry I cannot make opening night, but I will come to the second night’s performance ... if there is one.”
There are silent responses when it is not readily apparent that any response occurred at all. In the early 1950s during the Korean War, the barracks of one military service hired Korean boys to be their houseboys. These youngsters came to clean and serve meals to the U. S. soldiers stationed there.
One barracks of American soldiers was particularly mean-spirited in their behavior toward the boy who came faithfully every day to serve them. They would nail his shoes to the floor, cover doorknobs with grease, set up buckets of water to topple onto the unsuspecting boy when he walked through a door.
All of this and more, the pranks piled up, yet the boy never once complained or showed any anger. After a while the soldiers’ consciences began to bother them. They decided to call him in and apologize.
They sat the boy down and explained how very sorry they were for all the mean things they had done to him, and noted that he had never once showed even a trace of anger.
The boy was very suspicious, not at first buying the apology, but thinking it was another new prank. When they pressed on him their sincere sorrow for their actions, he finally spoke up. “You mean, no more nail shoe to floor?” No more nail shoes to the floor, they replied.
“You mean, no more grease on doorknob?” No more grease, they said. “You mean, no more water come tumbling down, splash me?” No more water, they affirmed.
He looked around at each of the men. Finally he smiled and said, “Okay then, no more me spit in you soup!”
In divorce situations, far too often one spouse will try to convince children the mate is evil and rotten and uncaring. I heard one old guy say that such spouses should be taken out and horsewhipped. Not sure I disagree with him.
Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Dear Lord, give me wisdom to ignore slights, hurts, offenses. Help me forgive those who trespass against me, as you have forgiven me for my great trespass against you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.