"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 14, 2019
I'm going to be honest with you -- there have been times throughout the years when I've been offended. Most of those times were due to comments made regarding my size and weight, that hurt my feelings or made me feel insignificant or as if I were a failure.
Honestly, I could write out details of who said what over the years, and I almost started to give examples; but really, what is the benefit of rehashing past offenses that hurt my feelings or made me feel bad about myself?
The bottom line is, I chose to be offended many times due to people's comments and reactions to my weight. And I'm sure many of you would think, "Well, of course you did! That was rude and they shouldn't have said that! I remember when someone said such and such to me......" We create a bond by discussing how we were offended, which creates a community of empathy. But really, is that how we want to bond with others; by discussing our offenses and how they affected us and made us feel? That makes for negative relationships.
As I grew older, the less such comments bothered me. But did I stop finding things to become offended about? No! I went from becoming less offended on my own behalf, to becoming offended on behalf of someone I loved; especially Jon or one of my sisters. You don't mess with them, or I'll come after you! There ain't nobody gonna disrespect or talk negatively about my husband or sisters! There is a protectiveness that arises within me when this happens, and I'm ready to do battle on their behalf; even though I manage to reign it in most times.
Then what about those times when someone disagrees with my opinion.... or they twist my words to mean something other than what I had intended or take them out of context.... or I innocently say something, intending it to be positive, and it is misinterpreted.... or someone thinks that I give them a "look" or am ignoring them, when in truth, I have something else on my mind or don't see them at all.... or someone disagrees with my faith or doesn't understand why or how I believe certain things.... or jealousies arise, which can cause offenses to occur.
In Matthew 17:1 Jesus says that offenses will happen. But then in Luke 7:23 He tells us to not be offended. What?!
There is a difference between offenses and being offended. In other words, offenses can (and will) happen to each of us, but we can choose to not be offended.
Recently, I heard a minister preach a powerful sermon on this topic; which has stuck with me and made me do some repenting and come to the realization that I need to choose to reject becoming being offended when offenses come.
He shared a clip from a previous sermon that he had preached. In that sermon he was speaking about spiritual hunger and as an example made a statement along the lines of he'd rather preach in a basement with three [spiritually] desperate people, than in the Bahamas with thousands of stuck up people who act like they don't need God. His point in making that statement was that effectiveness has little to do with destination, but everything to do with the attitude of the heart. This was just a very short clip out of an entire sermon; and was not the main point of what he had been preaching about
His sermon was posted online, and afterwards he looked to see what people's response was. There was a lot of positive feedback, but also many people who took that one statement out of context and made very negative comments. Responses along the lines that he had been bashing Bahamian people.... that he needed to stop judging Bahamian people and repent.... that he should banned from ever preaching in the Bahamas....
He hadn't been bashing Bahamian people. He said that he was just trying think of two words that started with the letter "B", and had came up with basement and Bahamas. But some completely missed the point of his entire sermon, instead focusing on that one statement.
When someone has the tendency to be easily offended, it generally takes very little to make them feel that way. And the truth is, being offended often leads to upset, hurt feelings, anger, unforgiveness, misery, breaches in relationships, and can even cause people to keep their distance from God.
If Jon and I were to trade eyeglasses and try to see, neither one of us would have clarity. Jon mainly needs readers and can see well from those that he can buy from a pharmacy. I need prescription lenses for astigmatism and being near-sighted, as well as bifocals. My glasses would be way too strong for Jon and make everything blurry for him; and I would never be able to see out clearly out of his lenses. We each need our own prescription.
That's how it is in life situations. Just because you see things one way doesn't mean that you are right and someone else is wrong. It just means that you both have different perspectives.... different vantage points.... and are seeing through different lenses. When this happens, we need to pray for clarity and humility. We have to choose love, not offense, even when we disagree.
Often it's like playing tug-of-war, where opposing sides have opposite ends of a rope and try to pull others over to their side, so that they will be declared the winner. We are so focused on being right, on our perspective being seen as the only way, that we fail to listen and really hear what the other person is saying. We want to win and hear the words, "I'm wrong, you're right!" In fact, we want this so much at times that we refuse to even consider that perhaps both sides have valid points. We tenaciously hang onto our end of the rope, trying to pull the other person over to our side, so that we can be declared the winner. Perhaps both sides need to let go of their argument, meet in the middle, pray for clarity and for open ears and an open heart to listen to and hear what the other person has to say. And afterwards, admit when we're wrong and not be offended. Or perhaps we may still disagree, but choose to love one another anyway; not walk away offended.
What is your current level of offend-ability? Does it take very little to cause you to become offended? Or when offenses come, are you able to overlook and ignore them completely?
Years ago I went shopping with a friend. She was driving and pulled into a parking spot. Apparently, I was oblivious to our surroundings and just enjoying the day. As soon as she pulled in, she was instantly offended by the lady in the car next to us. "Did you see that women next to us? She gave me a dirty look!" She went on and on about how she had done nothing wrong and that woman had looked at her the wrong way, and why would she do such a thing! I told her that I hadn't seen her do that. Possibly the woman had something else on her mind... perhaps she was upset about something that had happened that day.... maybe she didn't realize what her facial expression was and was just looking over to make sure our car was out of the way before backing up.... My friend was absolutely convinced that that look had been directed at her personally.
I have really deep creases between my eyebrows, which probably makes me look like I'm angry or upset or sad, when I'm really not! I have a coarse, deeper voice with a hillbilly accent and I know that sometimes my tone of voice comes out completely different than what I mean. In fact, there have been times when Jon has thought that I was upset with him due to my tone of voice, and I'm really not! I wish I had a more feminine, softer, gentler speaking voice; but I don't. I wish I didn't have these deep creases between my eyebrows, but I do. I have no desire to cause offenses.
The truth is, people can become offended at anything from a look, to words, to tones, to actions. In fact, we live in a world where it seems as if living offended is a way of life and accepted as normal. But that is not how Jesus intends or wants us to live! We need to rise above offense and not let them attach themselves to us! We need to choose to let go of offenses and not hold onto them. Don't keep rehashing who said what, when, and how it hurt our feelings or affected us. LET GO OF OFFENSES!! I'm preaching to myself here, as much as to anyone.
I again ask this question, "What is your (and my) current level of offend-ability?" The minister whom I recently heard preach on this topic asked this question, then made this statement: "Your level of offend-ability depends on your spiritual maturity!" Therefore, if we easily become offended, then perhaps we aren't nearly as spiritually mature as we'd like to think we are! But if we can easily shake off offenses and not allow them to attach themselves to us at all, then we have a deeper level of spiritual maturity.
So are there any offenses that you have been holding onto? Are there offenses that may have happened years ago, but you tend to still bring them up and talk about them over and over again? If so, then you've probably not really dealt with them and forgiven the offender and let go. Do you become offended quickly; getting upset or your feelings hurt, allowing offenses to affect your emotions?
I've had to do some soul-searching myself regarding the area of offense. When you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any offenses that you're holding onto, be prepared to deal with them. If you don't, then they will grow and fester and healing cannot come in those areas of your life.
I'm going to be open with you. One area that God revealed to me personally, was that I'd allowed jealousies to cause me to become offended towards others. There is something that I've prayed for, hoped for, and have waited for a very long time to receive an answer; and still haven't seen the fulfillment of it come to pass. God has given a promise, so I know that it will one day happen, but it seems to be taking a really long time.... like several years! When I see others having prayers answered and needs met and being blessed, without the long wait, it has caused me to feel jealous and offended towards them; as well as feeling that way a little towards God. "What's up, God?! Have I not had enough faith.... have I not been patient.... have I not been faithful.... have I not prayed and believed with expectation.... have I not been persistent... have I been too persistent... is there need greater than mine.... do you love them more.... why do they seemingly have things handed to them every time they have a need, and we have had to wait for years....?" Yeah, I've been feeling a little offended that God would honor and answer their prayers, but not yet answer mine!
I've had to repent of carrying around this attitude of offense! I cannot begin to explain the ways of God and His whys, whens, and hows. But I do know that He loves each of us equally! I know that His promises are true and will come to pass! I know that He will honor His word; as well as honor my faithfulness and perseverance! I know that I have much value and worth to my Heavenly Father! I know that He is my provider, protector, and hears and answers each and every prayer! I know that His timing is not mine! I know that He is faithful to do all that He has promised!!
I encourage you right now to prayerfully search your heart. Ask God to show you any offenses that you are holding onto. Ask God to show you if you are easily offended. Sometimes we like to quickly answer what we "want" to be the right answer and how we want to see ourselves: "No, I don't get offended easily!" "No, I don't have any offenses that I've been holding onto!" But when we take time to pray and allow the Holy Spirit to search our heart, we find out differently; and don't always like what we see. When we are honest, then God can work to bring about change in our heart and life. Let's all be honest today, and allow God to do a good work within us, to bring about change.
Offenses will come; but let's not be offended!
During another time in my life, I had a fairly good job, but kept getting shifted from one task to another faster than I could finish any of them. And the underlying technology I had to use was very flawed, and couldn't be used to make anything high quality. It was very frustrating, and took most of the satisfaction out of my job. Someone asked how I kept enjoying my job. I was mostly joking, but answered, "I've just reached a great level of the deepest apathy." What I meant was that I knew I was doing my best, and didn't care if I was allowed to finish anything or produce a good end product.
But there is a little benefit overcoming our need to please everyone else. We have to please God with honor and glory. And we need to be pleased with our own faithfulness, honesty, and love. But we don't have to care about getting everyone else to be pleased with us. We don't need them all to show us respect or honor. If we have been faithful, and earned their respect, then it is their failing if they don't show respect.
I believe feeling disrespected is the core of most feelings of offense. It might be someone who cuts us off in traffic (not respecting our right-of-way). It might be someone who doesn't thank us for a favor (not respecting the work we did). It might be an insult against our clothes (disrespecting our fashion sense). It could be many different ways to show lack of respect.
I don't mean that we shouldn't care at all. But we need to remember that God's respect for us counts, and the respect of others has very little value. So, reaching that deep apathy can be very healthy, as long as it is in just the right context.
No Bake Cheesecake
1 ready-made graham cracker crust
1 cup powdered sugar
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 can pie filling (your choice of flavor)
1 cup Cool Whip
Cream powdered sugar and softened cream cheese together until creamy. Stir in Cool Whip; blend well.
Spread this mixture over the crust.
Spread pie filling evenly over the top. (You can use cherry, blueberry, strawberry pie filling -- or another flavor of choice.)
Refrigerate until well chilled before serving.
My sister, Janie, was recently watching four of her grandkids. Her five year old granddaughter, Jovie, asked her where she got her name. Janie told her that her mama and daddy had chose that name for her. Jovie asked, "Well.... a long time ago did you want to change your name?" Janie told her no, that she liked it. Jovie said, "You could change it to Cupcake." Janie: "Why?" Jovie: "That would be really sweet?!?!"
Maybe we should stop disliking people for what we have heard
and be grateful God does not dislike us for what He knows. - TobyMac
We love you!
Loretta & Jon