By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer
My first year as a sixth-grade teacher, I sprinkled my classroom walls with quotes, pinning them around the room at student-eye level. One of my favorites was taken from a desktop calendar:
“Some people find fault like there is a reward for it.”
Zig Ziglar is credited with this witty play on the word “find.” I wanted my students to know that I wasn’t there to find fault with them, but to help them find improvement. There is a difference.
As children (and adults) we often take what we find. Remember the old adage, “Finders keepers, losers weepers”?
We remember it because it rhymes, which is one of the many reasons millions of dollars flow into ad agencies. If companies can get a pithy phrase to stick in consumers’ minds, those consumers are more likely to buy/use/talk about the product.
Words are like that—they stick. Have you noticed? Sometimes they stick like lint or a kiss. Sometimes like Velcro.
Or a dart.
The pointed words usually have a barb on the end that keeps us from brushing them off.
Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to take offense when we walk away from a conversation feeling like a dart board.
I’ve always been intrigued by the construction of the phrase “take offense.” It’s right up there with “find fault.” Our language constructs both phrases in the active voice, making them something that someone does.
So is it possible to not do either one? To not find fault or take offense?
I believe it is, but not doing something is like going on a diet or giving up a bad habit—it creates a vacuum that wants to suck in everything in sight.
It’s easier to not do one thing if we can actively do something else.
God gave us a great escape from the vacuum of not taking offense. The approach follows Jesus’ teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The New Testament teacher, Paul, told believers to “Let your conversation be always full of grace …” (Colossians 4:6 NIV).
Be gracious in your speech, The Message says.
So I guess we have a choice in our give-and-take world. We can give grace or we can take offense.
Let’s be grace-givers this week.
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