Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Elder David A. Bednar on being offended by others

Elder David A. Bednar (born June 15, 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.
"In the grand division of all of God’s creations, there are things to act and things to be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:13–14). As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed with the gift of moral agency, the capacity for independent action and choice. Endowed with agency, you and I are agents, and we primarily are to act and not just be acted upon. To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be acted upon. As agents, however, you and I have the power to act and to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation....
"The Savior is the greatest example of how we should respond to potentially offensive events or situations.
"'And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men' (1 Nephi 19:9).
"Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense. 'Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them' (Psalm 119:165)."
- David A. Bednar, "And Nothing Shall Offend Them," General Conference October 2006
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Elder Bednar teaches us that sometimes, the verb tense makes all the difference in understanding our mortal experience. In reality, though people often do things that are offensive, the issue is not that they offend us, but that we choose to be offended by them.

Understanding the eternal role of agency becomes critical. God has created us as agents, endowed with our own personal and moral agency, to choose how we act. No one can "make us feel offended, angry, hurt, or bitter" without us exercising our agency to allow those feelings to appear. We are not passive objects being acted upon; we are the ones who "choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation."

Elder Bednar's example of the Savior responding to offensive actions is a great one. He chose to suffer those things inflicted by others "because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering" for His persecutors. When we feel Christlike love for others, we are less likely to allow their offensive actions to impact us. It truly is in and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can learn to "avoid and triumph over offense" and live our lives in peace and love.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

No comments:

Post a Comment

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15