"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!'"
January 29, 2020
Something that the Holy Spirit has been showing me recently is how easily I allow myself to become offended. This is nothing new, for I've carried the spirit of offense around with me for years.
I can tell you every hurtful word that people have spoken to me about my weight.... even down to where I was and what I was doing at the time. Things that were said from people who loved me and who had no idea how deeply their words affected me. Offenses that I've held onto and carried around with me for years.
As an adult, I become offended when someone says something negative or critical about my husband or one of my sisters. I become offended if someone does something to hurt one of my friends. I become offended on behalf of my husband, my family, my pastor, my church, my friends, my favorite music (don't you dare criticize the mucic and hymns and songs that I love!), etc. You don't mess with the people and things that I love dearly!!
A few years ago, I heard a sermon and wrote a quote from it that is brought back to my memory from time to time: "You carry your grievances upon your body."
A grievance is an: injustice, wrong, insult, criticism, resentment, gripe, bad feeling, etc. It is basically things that cause us to be offended.
When we carry those things around, hold onto them, bring them up from time to time and talk about them, it fills us up and leaves less room for God and those things which He wants to fill us up with. It just does!
A few years ago, I got this bright idea to plant vinca vines in my front flower beds to use as filler between the other plants. I thought it would fill in the space and look pretty. What I didn't realize was that they were trailing vines that root along their joints as they creep the ground and they spread rapidly. They become very invasive, very quickly! They don't know what the border of the flower bed looks like. I had them growing around the corner of our house, out into the front yard, along the backyard fence line, and in the cracks of our driveway. For probably the past 5-6 years (or longer) I have pulled up vine after vine, trying to get rid of them. I still seem some from time to time during the spring and summer months. It's annoying and frustrating!
That's how the spirit of offense is in our lives. It is like an invasive vine that fills our mind, our heart, our soul; winding around into every area and showing up where it's not wanted. It causes anger, bitterness, negative attitudes, frustration, righteous indignation, hurt, and a whole plethora of emotions. It causes our mouth to sin by words we spew forth when offense comes to us or someone we love. It can cause headaches, upset stomach, heartburn, nervousness, overeating, and other health issues.
Offense is a nasty enemy that invades and takes over our lives! It causes us to speak in anger, want revenge, and makes us feel justified in our words and actions.
Proverbs 12:16 says, "A fool shows his irritation immediately, but a prudent person overlooks an insult."
A prudent person is someone who is wise, sensible, shrewd, and well advised.
Here is another Proverb with that word in it: "Prudence makes one slow to anger and his glory is to overlook an offense." (19:11)
James 1:19, 20 says, "Know this, dear brothers and sisters; let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger -- for human anger doesn't produce the righteousness of God."
I can't be easily offended, regardless if it is for my own sake or on behalf of someone else, and produce God-like qualities. People are going to say words that are hurtful, negative, unwise, and ungodly. Life situations aren't always fair. People aren't always treated fairly and with respect. We can't choose what other people say or do or how they behave. We just can't!
The truth is, there are times when people may say or do something unintentionally and mean no offense at all. In fact, they may not even know that they have offended or caused hurt.
What we can do is choose our response and choose to not allow offenses to reign in our lives. We truly can! We can choose to not be the ones who respond with words and actions that are hurtful, negative, critical, or disrespectful. When we do, we are putting ourselves on the same level as the one who initially offended.
We can also stop and ask ourselves, "What caused that person to say and behave as they did? What hurts are they dealing with? Have they experienced trauma or something in their past that is causing them to react as they are? How can I pray for this person?"
Can I tell you that praying for someone has a lot more affect than anger or retaliation; or even repeating their offense to others and talking about them?
So I'm asking God to pull out all of those old offenses that have become rooted within me; leaving no roots behind. I'm praying that I will begin responding to offenses, not in my flesh, but how Jesus would want me to respond and react. I don't want my life to be overrun by the nasty vines of offense, but would much rather be filled completely full of Jesus and all the goodness that He brings!
Like the vinca vines, we tried canna flowers, too. We had a small patch when we got married, and separated them, and planted bulbs around our fences. We didn't need much work to cultivate the cannas. They were attractive. They also attracted humming birds.
They also attracted some kind of leaf roller caterpillar. They made a mess of the cannas. And when the cannas died back each year, they left a mess of long brown stalks all over the yard. Within a couple years, we were sick of them, and wanted them all gone.
Almost any kind of negative attitude can start with something that seems right. It might even draw in friends that we like, and bolster our self-image. But when we cultivate them, they can draw in other, worse attitudes, and eventually leave a big mess. Feeling offended might feel right, and we can even get camaraderie complaining about something with friends. But it can also lead to hatefulness, bitterness, and hostility.
Eventually, we wished we never cultivated those cannas. So we got rid of them entirely.
Chicken Breast Casserole
4 boneless chicken breast, halved
8 strips bacon
1/2 pint sour cream
1 can mushroom soup
Wrap one piece of bacon around each piece of chicken. Place bacon-wrapped chicken in casserole dish. Mix sour cream, mushroom soup, and a small amount of mix together. Pour over chicken. Do not salt. Cook uncovered in 300 degree oven for 2-1/2 hours.
Growing up, we would often visit with my mom's sister and her family who lived nearby. They had a son who was a couple years older than my sister, Janie, and the two of them were good buddies when they were kids. Janie recently reminded me of this story. Danny had learned somewhere (from a very reliable source, I'm sure!) that Africa was full of cannibals. So the two of them decided that the people there must need Jesus, so they came up with a plan. Danny would build a raft and the two of them would travel across the ocean. To finance their trip, Danny would play basketball with the NBA, wait for Janie to finish school, then they would head out. Janie's main concern was for the cannibals that didn't get saved. Danny alleviated her fears by saying he would have a bazooka to shoot them. He had a guitar, so they practiced the song that they would sing.
Danny: "Now 'lettuce' (sometimes he would say 'cabbage"! - instead of "let us") Janie: "Have a little talk with Jesus......"
They heard a snicker and giggle at the door and found that two of their older sisters were spying on them and listening in. They laughed and laughed!
God is still writing your story. Quit trying to steal the pen.
Trust the author. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon