"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!'"
October 2, 2013
Matthew 18:7 says, "Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!"
The definition of offense is: Annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one's standards or principles. To be offended means means that there was a cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful by such an act.
We have all had occasions when we've been offended by something or someone. Perhaps we were watching a movie or TV show and there was a scene that we found offensive. It could be that someone used language when talking to us that we found offensive.
But there are also times when an individual may say something about us or a family member that we find judgemental and causes us to become offended. When that occurs, we often get our feelings hurt and will hang onto those feelings for a long, long time. We will repeat the offense in our minds; repeat it to others; and will bring it up over and over again.
It is often difficult to let go of the feeling of being offended. We will hold onto it as tightly as we possibly can.
Years ago I attended a conference for women and the speaker spoke about the subject of holding onto offenses. She had someone who didn't like something she had done and they had mailed her a hurtful letter, outlining what she had done wrong and what she should have done differently. It hurt her feelings and she carried that letter around in her purse for months; bringing it out and re-reading it from time to time. Finally, she felt convicted by the Lord for carrying that letter around with her and holding onto that offense. Perhaps whoever had written it had been wrong for sending it to her, but on the other hand, she was wrong for clinging so tightly to it and not letting it go.
I remembered that example a few years later when I was mailed an unsigned poem by someone after my dad passed away. It said some very negative things about my step-mother, and althought the author probably meant it to comfort, I found it offensive and it really hurt my feelings. The things that they had judged her as doing were not based on fact, but on their own perception of Daddy's funeral. They obviously didn't realize the dire health issues our step-mother was dealing with at that time, and that some of the things they thought were her decisions were in actuality ones made by me and my sisters. I held onto that poem for a few days, then realized that it was only causing me to hold onto feelings of hurt and offense. I shredded it so that I couldn't go back and dig it out of the trash. But even though I got rid of that poem, if I'm not careful, I will bring it back up in my mind and become offended all over again.
Proverbs 18:19 says, "An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars."
Proverbs 19:11 tells us, "A person's wisdom yelds patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."
I recently read a quote from a friend who said, "Don't let Satan keep you handcuffed to him through an offense. He will take you places you don't want to go. Jesus is the key that unlock them."
When we are offended, we may be justified in feeling as we do, but it usually causes more harm to ourselves than to the one who offended us. Whoever caused the offense may not even realize that they did anything hurtful, so they go on with their lives never knowing that we are upset. But we hold onto the offense and relive it over and over again. And the longer we hold onto it, the bigger and worse it gets in our mind. Offense is like a seed that is planted; the longer it is fertilized and ferments, the bigger it will grow.
Not only do we need to forgive, we also need to let it go and forget, as instructed by God. That is the only way we can truly live abundantly. Burdens can often be of our own making, due to our unwillingness to give them to God, then leave them with Him without picking them back up again. And offense can be a very cumbersome burden to lug around with us.
Matthew 18:15 tells us that if another believer sins against us, that we need to go to them privately and point out the offense. If that person listens and asks for forgiveness, then we've won that person back. How much better that will be, than us holding onto the offense and not ever discussing it with the one who hurt us and trying to be fully restored to a right relationship with them. If they refuse our plea, then the burden of unforgiveness falls on them, not us.
On the other hand, if we are the one who causes offense, we need to be willing to confess it and apologize, when someone comes to us. How important it is to keep offenses under control and not allow them to grow and destroy relationships.
Offenses are like the legendary feud between the Hatfields and McCoys. Often in such cases, our resentment and hurt are passed down to other generations, and they don't even know why they are upset or hold a grudge against someone. They just know that so and so said or did something that hurt a family member, so they are to not have anything to do with them. May we never be the one who passes down the bitterness of an offense to someone, causing them to stumble and harbor ungodly thoughts in their heart.
May we be willing to let go of past hurts and offenses, in order for Jesus to be glorified and Lord of every area in our life. None of us truly want to go through life, handcuffed by our offense to Satan. If we don't break free from that chain, we will eventually be so tightly bound that we will feel that there is no hope. In fact, it can weaken our relationship with God. Satan will lead us down paths that we never intended to go down. But Jesus holds the key that will unlock those chains of bondage and set us free! And John 8:36 promises that "if the Son makes or sets you free, then you will be free indeed."
Some people just enjoy feeling offended, especially when they can get others to feel sorry for them. It can feel good to know others show compassion for us. It feels a lot better to hear someone say, "Oh, you poor dear", than "Get over it, already."
I have a bad habit of agreeing with other people, even when they are harping about negativity. I have a co-worker who is constantly negative. He has some good reasons to complain, but he doesn't need to keep his focus on all the problems with his project, the people he is depending on who disappoint him, all the things that could go wrong if he doesn't finish in time, and so on. Instead, he needs to keep his focus on God. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." And Romans 8:5 says, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit." When things of the world start getting at you, please remember that this world will all pass away. It won't stop bad things getting to you, but it can help get your focus on God again at least for a while.
Baked Potato Soup
6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 oz. Velveeta
2 chicken bouillon cubes
8-10 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 stick margarine or butter
1 bunch green onions, chopped (optional)
1 pint sour cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
In large saucepan, combine potatoes and bouillon. Add enough water to cover. Cook over medium high heat until potatoes are tender and break easily with fork. Break up potatoes, but do not mash. (Do not drain the water.) Add butter, Velveeta, and bacon. Lower heat and simmer until cheese melts. Add green onion (if desired) and sour cream and cook until onions are scalded. Add salt and pepper to taste. This heats up really well the next day for leftovers; and in fact is as good or even better after sitting overnight in the fridge.
My nephew and his wife teach children's church on Sunday mornings. This past Sunday they overheard one of the little girls educating another child in the class about water baptism. Very seriously she said, "When you trust in God after you become a Christian, you get to go to that big bath (otherwise known as a baptistry) to get bath-tized!"
Vows are often made in storms and forgotten in calms. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon