Being sensitive towards others has been a topic of discussion for me this past week. It wasn’t intentional, yet this idea kept reoccurring in almost every conversation I’ve had. Sometimes when the topic of offending others comes up, it’s from the perspective that people should not be easily offended. That is right and important, but today consider the other side.
When it comes to our responsibility to not cause offense, Luke 17:1-2 illustrates the importance of being aware of the result of our actions or words. Then He said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.’” Have you ever considered what a terrible consequence that is for someone who offends?
Being aware of our actions and words allow us to be sensitive to others. Thinking about the words we use before we talk can help to prevent an offense. We don’t use God’s name in vain or curse because we are commanded not to in the Bible. We also need to be aware of put-downs, sarcasm, teasing and euphemisms. These can all be misinterpreted, even if we have good intentions. It’s disheartening to learn that a playful joke was taken the wrong way, and we find out that our words caused pain to another person.
Have you ever considered your morning routine, whether someone might be offended by it? That might sound a bit crazy, but to the person who can’t stand to be next to you because you reek of your favorite cologne or lotion, I’m sure they would love for you to consider their needs. The same principle applies to revealing clothing. The kind gesture to remember modesty can mean a lot to the person who is struggling with temptation or who is trying to teach their children the right way to dress.
Being aware of others’ needs does not mean we have to constantly be “walking on eggshells,” but that we should always be thinking of others and how we can help. The second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, should be put into practice every single day. When we love others, we will try our best not to hurt them. By doing our part in not causing offenses, it will be that much easier for others not be offended.