When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary on His first visit to Bethany, Mary could have chosen to be offended by her sister. But there is no indication that she felt that way. She also could have taken offense when Judas and the disciples protested against her act of extravagant worship. But again, there is no indication that she did.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the pain that was inflicted upon Mary in both situations. Here was a woman who loved her Lord with all her heart, and she was unfairly criticized for it. Not by her enemies, but once by her sister and another time by some of the Lord’s own Disciples.
It reminds me of the old adage, “No good deed shall go unpunished.”
The words of Elbert Hubbard also come to mind: “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”
In both cases, Mary never opened her mouth to defend herself or her actions. In silence, she entrusted the matter to her Lord. And in both instances, Jesus rose to her defense.
There will always be some Christians who will undermine and denigrate your good actions. With that in mind, here are four things I’ve learned about being offended by others:
1. Christians Will Hurt Your Feelings
Because of the fall, this will happen. Sometimes a person acts with malicious intent, desiring to hurt you because they don’t like you or they’ve chosen to be offended by you. Other times they will hurt you without realizing it.
I’m sure that when the other disciples chimed in with Judas’ complaint, they weren’t trying to hurt Mary. It was just the result of fleshly judgment.
2. When Others Hurt You, Your Spiritual Maturity Will Be Revealed
You will discover how real your relationship with Jesus Christ is when your feelings get hurt. You can be the greatest speaker, the greatest worshiper or the greatest evangelist, but when your feelings are hurt, what you do at that moment and afterward will reveal the reality of your relationship with Jesus.
People have one of two reactions when their feelings get hurt: they deal with it before the Lord or they destroy others. Mary left it in the hands of Christ, and you should, too.
3. God Intends To Use Mistreatment For Our Good
Recall the mistreatment that Joseph endured at the hands of his own brothers. Joseph took it from the hand of God, saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”
Remember King David when Abishai cursed him? David chose not to kill his detractor, but instead he saw the persecution in light of God’s sovereign hand.
To paraphrase Romans 8:28, everything that comes into our lives, whether good or evil, first passed through the hands of a sovereign, loving God before it got to us. And He uses it for our good.
Once you make peace with God’s sovereignty and His ability to write straight with crooked lines, the more at peace you will be with those who mistreat you. While God is not the author of confusion or evil, He seeks to use all things for our transformation.
When Jesus defended Mary, He transformed her act into an immortal example of what real worship entails. Her example was such that we’re still talking about it two thousand years later.
4. Christians Often Get Offended By Reading Into Words And Actions
This usually happens when a person is oversensitive and thin-skinned. In my experience, this makes up most cases in which a Christian takes offense at another believer.
As a group, Christians are the most easily offended people in the world when we should be the least. While Mary was mistreated twice, she didn’t take offense. We would all do well to learn from her faithful example.