Why does the sight of a child playing make even the grumpiest person smile? There are no dark clouds on their horizon. Their delight with life reminds us of what it is like to have joy. We were all children once. What happened to our joy?
There are two culprits that are usually to blame…
The first culprit is sin. Children don’t practice sin. Sure they make mistakes—but not intentionally. Most children adjust their behavior when someone teaches them the difference between right and wrong and the consequences.
Isaiah 59:1-2, Living Bible – “Listen now! The Lord isn’t too weak to save you. And he isn’t getting deaf! He can hear you when you call! But the trouble is that your sins have cut you off from God. Because of sin he has turned his face away from you and will not listen anymore.”
We might respond…“Whoa! I’m not doing anything wrong. I love God and I treat people right. If I do sin, I apologize to God and the person, and I try to make things right.”
Good. We’ve ruled out option number one. Sin separates us from God. But, if the devil can’t tempt us to practice sin, he has one other strategy that can even suck the joy out of the strongest Christian…
The second culprit is offense. Children are not bitter. They don’t remember what made them angry last week or hold a grudge. If you say “sorry” that settles it–all’s forgiven.
We can’t afford to be offended either. It costs too much…
- Offense = No joy or strength. No offended person experiences the joy of the Lord. (Psalm 16:11, Nehemiah 8:10)
- Offense = Disconnection from Christ. (1 John 3:13-15)
- Offense = No power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:29-31)
- Offense = No answers to your prayers. (Isaiah 59:1-2, Mark 11:24-25)
- Offense = A vulnerable Christian. (1 Peter 5:7-9)
- Offense = An easy target for the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27)
Offense is coming. When God promotes us, offense comes. When we deepen our commitment to Christ, offense comes. When we commit to marriage, offense comes. When we join a church, offense comes. When we overcome the temptation to sin, offense comes. When it’s time to submit to godly authority, offense comes. In other words, offense is always coming.
Are we ready to fight offense? Tip: We cannot fight offense by becoming offended. Ever notice how the person who offends us usually repeats the behavior? He isn’t necessarily even aware he was rude, so his conscience is clear. She is having a great day–even though she took the parking spot we patiently waited for! Meanwhile, we’re brooding over their misconduct…
- “If he cuts in front of me in line one more time, I’ll…”
- “If she eats the last piece of my cake again, I’ll…”
- “If they leave a big mess in the break-room one more day, I’ll…”
Stop! Offended, irritated, annoyed thinking moves us away from Christ. We can’t abide in Christ and bitterness at the same time. We can’t hear God’s voice over our own angry thoughts. And, God certainly doesn’t want to hear us complaining—even about offenses. After all, God has forgiven us of so much. Who are we to hold a grudge against anyone?
Ephesians 4:31-32, Living Bible – Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.
Mark 11:24-25, Living Bible – “Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you have it; it’s yours! But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your sins too.”
God understands our anger. But, he doesn’t want us to dwell on it. That’s why God has given us weapons that will destroy this strategy of the enemy. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fighting, arguing, back-biting, revenge, etc.), they are spiritual.
The character of Christ, intercession and the spoken Word of God will fight for us.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, New King James Version – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Five Spiritual Weapons Sure to Destroy Offense
Weapon One: Pray for the person…immediately. This is how Jesus overcame offense. He forgave the people who crucified him. He forgave the people who didn’t care about him (soldiers gambled for his clothes while he was dying!). He forgave the religious leaders who mocked him.
Luke 23:33-35, Living Bible – “Two others, criminals, were led out to be executed with him at a place called “The Skull.” There all three were crucified—Jesus on the center cross, and the two criminals on either side. “Father, forgive these people,”Jesus said, “for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothing, throwing dice for each piece. The crowd watched. And the Jewish leaders laughed and scoffed. “He was so good at helping others,” they said, “let’s see him save himself if he is really God’s Chosen One, the Messiah.”
Ephesians 4:26-27, Living Bible – “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry—get over it quickly; for when you are angry, you give a mighty foothold to the devil.”
Weapon Two: Abide in Christ. Abiding means meditating on the Word of God and Jesus Christ’s way of doing things. It is impossible to abide in Christ and offense at the same time. Without Christ living in us, we cannot demonstrate the fruit of God’s spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). But in Christ, we can do all things, including forgiving those who trespass against us (Philippians 4:13, Mark 11:24-26).
John 15:5, New King James Version – “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Weapon Three: Don’t complain. Consider Jesus. During his earthly ministry, he never complained about someone mistreating him.
Isaiah 53:7-8, Living Bible – “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he stood silent before the ones condemning him. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that he was dying for—that he was suffering their punishment?”
Weapon Four: Speak life. We shouldn’t assume people are going to mistreat us before they have done anything wrong, and then become offended in advance by meditating on negative things that might happen. This leads to one of the most destructive things we can do to ourselves–talk about all of the things we don’t want to happen. This is like placing an order for misery. Unfortunately, that order will be filled. Instead, say what you do want.
Proverbs 18:21, New King James Version – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”
James 3:2, English Standard Version – “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”
Weapon Five: Think right. Don’t meditate on the irritation, frustrating event or weakness of the offending person. Instead, think on these things…
Philippians 4:8, New King James Version – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”