Somebody should keep a list of stupid things that people say to pastors. The only problem is that someone would pull out a list of stupid things that pastors say. If you want to look for offense, you never have to look far.
The problem is that unity never survives long when people start to get ticked. And when people get ticked, and unity disappears, the Spirit tends to flee. It’s death for a church. In the history of revival, even when the Spirit is active, “no drop of blessing has descended there where a spirit of controversy and strife had obtained a footing,” we read in The Revival of Religion. “The Spirit of God hovered around but fled from the scene of discord as from a doomed region where his dove-like temper could find no resting place.”
We need to give others a lot of slack. This doesn’t mean ignoring sin, because that can be a lack of love. It means, though, that we’re slow to take offense. Our first reaction must be extending grace rather than judgment and anger.
As someone said to me last year: Be unoffendable.
Why? For one thing, Scripture commends being slow to anger (Proverbs 14:29 James 1:19) and overlooking offenses (Proverbs 17:9; 19:11) out of love (Proverbs 10:12). Also, it creates a pretty sweet spirit within a church. Have you ever seen a church in which people are always extending grace? I have. It’s compelling. There’s nothing quite like it.
The best reason to be unoffendable, though, is because of how God has treated us. “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18). If God has lavished his grace on us, how can we not do the same for others?
By God’s grace, give others what they need, and what you need too. Help shape a church that reflects the beauty of the gospel. Be obedient, and reflect how God has treated you. Be unoffendable.