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It takes two to tango.


So, Mr. Contentious, meet Mr. Touchy Feely. Here's an explosive admixture for some fireworks. One has an arsenal of aggressive and offensive verbal weapons, the other an absorbent shield of feelings on their sleeve. Alone they're relatively impotent, the object of their own devices. When paired in the right circumstances there's potential for sparks and booms igniting everything and everybody around them. They're just proof positive that it takes two to tango, simply meaning that two humans are necessary for genuine interpersonal conflict.


Sure, some of us are argumentative, irritable, aggravating, provocative, and bothersome a good bit of the time. These citizens like to prod and probe, argue and criticize, and push others right over the edge of personal sanity. They're unavoidable because they're positioned in our normal surroundings---neighbors, co-workers, family members, and even fellow church members. We can adjust to their ways and learn to ignore their jibes and goading. We're taught to consider the source and pursue a more mature escape from their soul-stirring ways. Learning to overlook offenses, ignore insults, and resist our natural inclinations is a lesson plan for life.


Partner two in this combo is that person who is easily offended. The slightest annoyance can crush the chip on their shoulder and inflame their emotions to hurtful or angry levels. Learning to tip-toe around such people is another life-long learning curriculum. It's a difficult lesson plan too because human feelings are so delicate, sensitive, and diverse. Yes, the Scriptural instruction in our Christian worldview provides ample teaching about the place of others in our lives. Much of it is directed at those heavy-handed contenders who push us so strongly. Just the same, there's biblical guidance about being too easily offended as well. Take note---


Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing

you.

Ecclesiastes 7: 21, ESV


Bearing with one another and if one has complaint against another, forgiving each

other, as the Lord has forgiven you, you must also forgive.

Colossians 3:13, NIV


Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119: 165, ESV


In the Apostle Paul's inspired treatise on genuine love he reminds readers that love is not "easily angered" (1 Corinthians 13:5, NIV), translating for me that my loving relationship with others keeps my feelings more secure than being so easily offended. In his great lesson on the signs of the end of the age Jesus predicted that many would be offended (see Matthew 24:10). Evidently the dynamics of that period will bring our emotions into full view and many humans will take offense at what is spoken.


There are Bible teachers who believe we're in those times right now. The uncertainty of Covid-19 has certainly raised the ire of many. Debate and argument are the order of the day as we imagine the end of the pandemic restrictions and the emergence of a new normal, whatever it is. And, personal sensitivity is visible in every media outlet, most notably in the social media where anonymity and distance invite our feelings.


Contentious people thrive in a world like this one. Overly sensitive people, easily offended by the blather, are a significant element is our discourse as well. Perhaps we should all wear the armor of God as taught by the Apostle Paul, "that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). Yes, those schemes would surely include the boisterous tactics of contentious people, and the easily offended sensitivity of others.


It does take two to tango.


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