Feeling Offended

When offences come your way, how you handle them will in most cases determine how God will be able to use you going forward.

“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;Yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:20-21).

As a pastor, I have dealt with offended people many times. Husbands offended with their wives and wives offended with their husbands, or kids offended with their parents. One offended with another in the church or a church person offended with one outside of the church. Or, the one who has been offended with me as the pastor. All of these offended people, holding grudges, bickering with each other, and starting rumors are ultimately destroying themselves and one another. All the while Satan laughs as he watches us slowly take ourselves out of the work of God, because our focus has been placed on our offence rather than on the hurting soul that needs our attention. We cannot have our focus on our offence and on the work of God at the same time. It’s impossible! One will outweigh the other. “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart” (Mark 3:24).

Being offended is something we’ve all had to deal with at some point in our lives, and will have to again in the future. When offences come we sometimes lash out to protect or defend ourselves. We open our mouths and make our hurt feelings known to the offender. We feel justified in doing so because the one who has hurt us needs to know about it, or so we think. When we lash out it offers a temporary, yet very satisfying, sense of justice.

Typically, there are three different types of offended people, or three different ways it’s handled. When you read these three you will most likely find yourself in one of them.

First, when you are offended you open your mouth, lash back out in protest, storm off, and let people know about the offence, and the one who offended you (by the way, this is often how rumors are started).

Second is the passive types. You keep your mouth shut and walk away, telling yourself you will never give that person the time of day again. You also feel the need to let your close friends know about the offence and the one who offended you.

The third, believe it or not, is often times the most dangerous type of the offended. You are the one who keeps quite, walks away, and later on still acknowledges the individual. You never say a word to anybody about the offence or the offender, but still hold on to the hurt and anger. This one can be the worst because you are the most likely to feel justified. You feel as if you have done no wrong, therefore,  there is no need to repent.

For those of us who lash back out in protest, we need to consider these words of Paul. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1Pet 3:9 NLT). And to those of us who don’t mind starting rumors about the ones who have hurt us, keep this in mind; “For the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies”‘ (1Peter 3:10).

And if those two scriptures are not enough, remember this one. “And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself” (James 3:6).

What about you quite types? Here is a scripture that fits you well. “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars”  (Proverbs 18:19).

No matter what type of person you are or how you handle offences, there is one thing you need to always remember. The words that Jesus said to his disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” (Luke 17:1).

When offences arise, let them die! Don’t let them fester in your heart and become your ruin.

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good (Romans 12:14-21).

But I’m Just So Discouraged

So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery (Exodus 6:9 NLT).

Discouragement has one main purpose, to steal your hope.

Discouragement can come from all different sources, at any given moment, and stay for varying amounts of time. It seldom warns you of its arrival time or when it may be departing. But when it arrives, it always has the same effect, we begin to feel hopeless. Smiles are faked so we can cope with those around us, but when we’re alone, tears easily fall as the pain consumes our minds and fills our heart’s emptiness. Sleep is hard to find, and when found becomes our main source of comfort because it’s the one place we can forget. Even now as some of you read this, you feel lost, deep in the clutches of discouragement. You’re looking for some way of escape but all you see is more pain. I’m here to tell you, There Is hope!

The enemy’s goal is to steal your hopes and dreams.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are (1Pet 5:8-9). The enemy of your soul is after your hope. He knows if he can steal your hope, he can steal your dreams and visions. The Bible says this about your hopes and dreams, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29;18 KJV).  The enemy’s plan is to lie, steal, and cheat you till you have nothing left to give those around you. If you have hope, you’ll have something to offer the hurting souls of this world. If not, you will perish just like them. This is why he is after your hope.

Hope is the anchor that holds you in place as the waves crash heavy and relentless against you.

For some of you, discouragement has been lingering for so long you’ve begun feeling like God has somehow forgotten or maybe even given up on you, or moved on to better people with less problems and mistakes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. First, be patient. Know that God would never leave you in this situation for longer than He knows you can handle. Also, He’ll never stop loving you. The Bible makes all of this very clear! Hebrews 6-17-19, “God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeablebecause it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

Sometimes God wants us to go through these times of hopelessness, not to destroy or punish us, but to build us up! He has a plan for your pain.

I know it sounds crazy, but God does often times uses discouragement to shape us into his likeness. I started out with a scripture in Exodus about the children of Israel and how they wouldn’t listen to Moses because of their discouragement. You see, Moses had to go through the same type of discouragement before he could bring the children of Israel out of theirs. Look at all the discouragement pouring out of Moses as he speaks to God after spending 40 years in the desert and feeling completely forgotten about. 

And Moses said unto “God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

And Moses answered and said, “But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord has not appeared unto you.”

Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” (Ex 3:11, 4:1, 4:10 and 4:13)

 The discouragement from forty years of being separated from his people only helped him understand better the pain and discouragement they were going through. James says some crazy things about our pain and why we go through it.  “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray, ask God. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be pushed away when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, believing, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers(worry brings doubt) are like wind-whipped waves (they have no anchor).  Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way (there’s no faith)” (James 1:2-7 The Message).

Now remember the words of Paul in Hebrews 6:19, “Hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.”

God will bring you out when you’ve become what he needs you to be.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure  trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1Pet 1:6-7 NLT).

 

The Simple Answer

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31).

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that the hardest truths for people to grasp are the ones that have the simplest answers. I’ll give you an example. Many of us wonder if God really loves us as an individual. We make mistakes, break promises made to God, and fall into sins that we hope nobody will ever find out about. Because of this, we go through much of our lives believing God is not happy with us, let alone still loves us with a deep, passionate, unwavering love.

I believe the prodigal son WAS this failing person we often mistake ourselves for. He was full of pride, disregarded his father’s authority, was ungrateful of what he had, and worst of all, he had a love for worldly things. Off the top of my head I can think of at least ten scriptures that can prove this young man was most certainly on his way to hell; but how did his father react to all of this disappointment?  When the son decided to make his way back home the Bible says this, “And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”  And what was the answer he gave to his oldest son when asking why his father would forgive his brother so freely?  “We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Luke 15:11-32). Such a simple answer to a long drawn out mess of a life.

Why is it we feel like the answer needs to be as complicated as the mess?

Fact is we just can’t believe the truth can be that simple, but it is! We go through life with what we feel are all of our deep questions for God. Such as, “why are innocent children raped and murdered every day? Why God did I pray for something so dear to my heart and you didn’t even love me enough to give me an answer? Why did you let my mom or dad die or why did you take my baby, wife, or husband from me? Why don’t you just reveal yourself to me in a powerful way so that I’ll believe in you with no doubts? Why do you sit silently while I cry out to you”?

All these questions floating around in our mind with what seems like no real answers. Truth is, the Bible answers all these questions and more, but you have to read it to find out.

You see, when you begin to read God’s word, he starts to reveal himself to you. David has this to say about God’s word in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Nothing else matters, no great philosophers opinion, or shrinks analogy of the situation, it’s God’s word that stands firm and lasts forever. Check out what else David had to say about the word of God in Psalm 119:89, “For ever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven.”

So is it really that easy, can you just open the Bible and all of your questions will be answered all at once? Of course not! If you’re anything like me, you have gone to the word of God with a deep burning need for just some bit of wisdom, and only went away even more confused than when you began. For this reason, most of us don’t go to God’s word, we feel like it’s above our heads so how can understand it? Again, simple answer for a complex question.

The Bible says this in response to your question, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2Timothy 2:15. Jesus also had this to say, So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7).

What concerns me the most are the people who go through life with no desire at all to read the word of God. You may be saying in your heart even as you read this, “oh here’s another one of those guys on a tangent about me not being spiritual enough unless I’m praying and reading the Bible a bunch. I don’t need another one of those sermons!” You do need this! More than you know, you need this.

One last thing I want to share with you about the importance of you reading the word of God for yourself. There are so many lies and half-truths floating around out there, you couldn’t know heads from tales without the Word to make things clear. I mean really, just take a look at how many different religions there are in this world, and not a one of them is claiming to have only half the truth. This is why my heart is troubled. Without the knowledge of the truth to protect you, the wolves will devour you!  Jesus spent three years building people up in the gospel, and just before he went to the cross he gave his disciples this warning, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:7-11).

So many of us have questions, but we don’t have to go without answers, or be led astray with lies.