Are you offended by something or someone? If not, you are for sure in the minority in our culture today.
I read a quote yesterday from Bobby Schuller. It said, “We’ve taught people to be offended instead of resilient.” And of course my thoughts ran away with me. Naturally there are things that are just offensive and you can’t get around that. But people have become ridiculous in our culture today.
Case in point: The call for a ban on In-N-Out because they dared to donate their own hard earned money to one political side. In their explanation, they said they give to both sides equally, but the other side didn’t care, not one bit. They were offended. Really? I remember something equally silly that happened at Chick-Fil-A a few years back.
And the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. We all know about that, and how they were put out of business because of the backlash. I remember growing up in a society where restaurants posted the sign that read, “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” and the other one that said, “We retain the right to refuse service to anyone,” or something like that. But it has always been the choice of the establishment who and when they served. Since when are we so hard and calloused enough to put a man’s livelihood at risk, not caring about his family or their needs? We sure have become a demanding and unforgiving society and I’m sure it’s breaking God’s heart. Where did our compassion for people go?
So what’s the deal with offense, anyway? I, of course, had to dig deeper. I had to look up the word ‘offense’ in the Bible to see what it had to say. The first times offense is mentioned in the Bible, it has to do with our own offenses toward God. He gets offended with us. And back before Jesus, they had to make a sacrifice when they offended God, that is, if He was willing to move past it. (Genesis 41:9; Leviticus 19:7; Ezra 10:19; Ecclesiastes 10:4)
Shoot, isn’t it true that sometimes we even offend our own selves? I know I do. Sometimes the things that come out of my mouth are offensive, even to me. Thank God He lets us know that no man can tame the tongue in James 3:8. Only with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit can we even begin to get a grip sometimes.
So the Bible has dealt with our sins and offenses. Now we pick up in Matthew 11:6 where Jesus tells them that they will be blessed if they are not offended by Him. And wouldn’t you know it, the very next offense verse, two of them actually, say that they were offended at Him. (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:3) Jesus says again, don’t be offended by Him and be blessed. He repeats which means, hey, listen up and pay attention! And it tells us why people are offended by Him in 1 Peter 2:8, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.
A few other scriptures come up and then we receive instructions about offending others. 1 Corinthians 10:32 says, “Give no offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God;” In context, the part before that says that in all you do, do it all to the glory of God AND do not offend. Romans 14:21 and 1 Corinthians 8:13 deal with offending your brother and making him stumble. It’s even gone so far as the taking of ours rights. Haven’t you heard some people extolling, “I know my rights…” or It’s my God given right?” It’s all about me and not the affect our actions may have on other people.
So let’s sum this up; we offend God sometimes, we offend even ourselves sometimes, we can be offended by Jesus sometimes and we are not to offend anyone, even the church.
So how has our culture gotten so far off track with this offending thing? I mean people are losing friendships over perceived offenses, families are being torn apart by offense and then there’s the crazy culture that’s so all about me and ‘my’ opinion we don’t even stop to see who we may be offending or even hurting along the way.
The key lies in our taking offense ourselves. “Our response to offense determines our future,” John Bevere. That means forgiving. Right away. John goes on to say that the “only way to be healed is to forgive.” Release the offense and the offender right away.
There are some Facebook things floating around that talk about walking away from people and only being friends with people who are of like minds, of the same opinions, etc. Really, is that how you think God would have us win someone over, or even be an example of how to react? I think not! We are to be ambassadors for Jesus and that’s really not the way. Besides, if we simply walk away, the offense stays with us and moves to grow into a root of bitterness. Bitterness is another topic for another day.
“An offended heart is he breeding ground of deception”, says John Bevere. If we are stuck in a state of being offended, it not only begins to mess with our other thoughts and actions, but moves us farther and farther away from God. It affects us more than we ever realize. It reminds me of the chips and salsa in a Mexican restaurant. Once you eat one, it’s hard to ever stop eating them. Better not to eat the first one at all.
It’s like reading the Bible. At first we do it every day and then life crowds in and pushes that time away. Pretty soon, we forget what it says, and that we need to renew our minds daily. Like manna that the Israelites were fed in the wilderness; it is our daily brain food and renews our minds. It also drives out the deception and uncovers the truth of our personal unforgiveness toward others.
Isn’t that how we all got so far out of control? We stopped renewing our minds daily. Then we stopped thinking about the other person, we stopped forgiving the other person and having compassion for them. And once we did it one time, we keep on keeping on and look where we are now as a society; as a church.
So here’s some renewing for your mind today;
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:12-14
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” John 20:23 Who retains them? You do!
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:14-15
“And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:34-35
I just want to point out that no where in the forgiving does it say, ‘if the other person is sorry.’ It doesn’t say, “but I’m right and their wrong.” It never says, “But only if they promise not to hurt me again.” It just says, ‘FORGIVE’.
So what things are you offended by today? Who are you holding offense toward? Remember who God in Christ Jesus forgave you and go and do likewise. Like John Bevere said, “Our response to an offense determines our future!”