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Lunar New Year

Now families are gathering for the Lunar New Year. For some, this will be a joy. However, for other families it will be extremely difficult, because some people are so easily be offended!

No matter what you say, touchy people will be offended. You can give them a compliment and they will hear it as a rebuke. Yet if you forget to compliment them, they will be doubly offended. You can never please them.

Jesus teaches us to be completely different. Jesus teaches us not to take offence. Jesus teaches us to accept insults without responding and indeed to accept all kinds of bad treatment without biting back. But how can we do this?

Deep inside, people who are easily offended are often highly insecure. They feel unloved and unlovable. But followers of Christ need not be so insecure. Jesus knew that he was unconditionally loved by the Father.

In the same way, we are unconditionally loved by our compassionate God. We know that we are lovable—despite all our failings—because God has already shown deep love for us. We do not have to have a poor self-image. We do not have to have low self-esteem.

Indeed, many of us struggle because we have a poor self-image and low self-esteem. The late Father Henri Nouwen was one who walked this path. Despite all his talents, he was filled with self-doubt. He could not accept a compliment. He could not believe that the praise which he received was really genuine.

He knew that on the outside, a person with low self-esteem can seem arrogant or proud. Such a person is constantly trying to make up for the weakness within, by a show of greatness. A person with low self-esteem may constantly criticise others, and insult them, but they are trying to make up for their weakness by bringing others down.

The way to success comes in two steps. The first is to know that we are lovable, and unconditionally loved by our compassionate God. The second step is to take God as our model.

With God as our model, we are able to be compassionate and not easily offended. With God as our model, we do not need to judge others harshly—we will be always ready to excuse and to trust. With God as our model, we will always be ready to grant pardon for what others say and do. Once we are able to do this, we will be much more at ease with ourselves and with others.

 

Parents know this. Parents know that their children can sometimes say harsh things, which can hurt very much. Yet parents have often forgiven their children in advance! Such parents provide a model of compassion and good speech. Then their children are more likely to themselves grow as people of compassion and good speech. Yes, some people take offence easily. But the followers of Jesus walk a different path.