The Lord is calling us to make Him our dwelling this year.
Psalm 91:1 (AMP)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].
The dwelling of the Lord is like a park pavilion in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. It’s dry and warm and safe. If so, then what could possibly lure us to go out into the storm? Why would we leave His protective covering?
This week, we’re beginning a new message series on one thing that causes many of us to leave the dwelling of the Lord. The topic? Offense…
It seems that in today’s culture it seems like people are offended by just about everything and anything. It seems like others expect you to read their minds, somehow know all of their many offense triggers, and avoid every single one of them. Our culture is overly sensitive, hyper dramatic, and unreasonably loud.
People are offended that other people become offended by their offensive offense. Literally accidentally referring to someone by the wrong pronoun can make national news headlines these days!
To be fair, even if you are thick-skinned and not so easily offended, it still is bound to happen from time to time. Life is hard and people can be very hurtful!
1 Jesus said to his disciples: “It is impossible that no offenses should come (NKJV), but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than he should offend (NKJV) one of these little ones. 3 So watch yourselves.
Now a common application and understanding of this scripture is that Jesus is speaking specifically about offending or tripping up or sinning against children. In Matthew 18, however, Jesus further defines a little one as anyone who believes in Him. Not just a child as in someone under the age of 18, but a child as in a child of God at any age.
Jesus takes offense seriously! How are we to respond to this person who deserves to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck? Well, let’s go to the next few verses…
“If another follower sins, warn him, and if he is sorry and stops sinning, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in one day and says that he is sorry each time, forgive him.” (NCV)
It’s important for us to speak up and let others know when they’ve offended us. Otherwise, they very well may have no idea that we’ve done so. If they are aware and just keep on doing it, well, then what do we do?
Forgive them? Seriously? Well, the apostles struggled just as much with responding to offense with forgiveness!
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.
We typically apply this mustard seed-size faith to believing in God for great things. However, the actual context is all about having the faith to forgive repeatedly. The faith to forgive is something that the apostles just didn’t have.
They could send demons in flight, heal any sickness or disease, but they did not have the faith required to forgive someone who offended them over and over again.
Why would Jesus require us to forgive someone whose offense deserves them to be given cement shoes and to swim with the fishes?
Well, to start, twice in the New Testament, this Old Testament scripture is quoted:
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.
Choosing to avenge an offense ourselves, to get them back, to repay them for their wrongdoing, is to steal from God. Stealing from God is a pretty bold move for anyone to do!
The more important issue at hand to God is our own condition, though. God will administer justice to those who sin against us, but God is more concerned about us. He wants to heal our hurt!
What is offense?
Offense is translated from the Greek word skandalon. It is defined as the movable stick or trigger of a trap, any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall.
In the Old Testament, it is the Hebrew word paḥ, which is defined as a trap, a snare, the source or agent of calamity (cross referencing OT quote found in Rom 11:9 )
It is so important for us to see offense as God sees it. It is a trap! Don’t take the bait! It will only lead to hurt! It will only steal from your life!
Dwelling in the Lord this year, this is one of the very first things that the Lord desires to deliver us from!
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s (yāqôš – trapper, bait-layer) snare (paḥ).
Don’t allow the bait of offense to ensnare you and drag you out of the safety of dwelling in the Lord!
Remember where the true battle lies! The offense may have come through a person and their sin against us. However, there is a far bigger picture in motion!
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Where do we stand? Where, after we have done everything, do we still stand? Dwelling in the Lord!
John Bevere wrote a book regarding offense and titled it exactly what offense is; the bait of Satan.
If you’ve ever trapped and came up to a trap to find an innocent animal accidentally caught in your trap, you have a pretty good picture of how God sees offense. For that innocent animal to begin healing from the wound inflicted by the trap, what needs to happen first?
First, they need delivered and released from the trap, right? That animal can’t heal while it is still caught in the trap that is injuring it.
That animal isn’t really looking to get set free from the trap, though! When the one who set the trap comes near them, that animal wants to inflict the same hurt, or worse, on the bait-layer! That animal will come at anyone or anything that comes near them with claws and teeth bared.
Hurt people hurt people. That’s why healing is so, so important to the Lord!
Let’s say that the trapped animal was able to get its revenge on the human who set the trap. After all, maybe that person maliciously intended to catch and injure the innocent animal, right? As that person gets near the trapped animal, it pretends to be timid a helpless victim. Then at the right moment, it lunges and grabs the person by the neck and kills them.
The animal might sense a tremendous victory at first, right? However, the condition and state of the trapped animal hasn’t changed at all. Revenge solved nothing…
God wants to heal us.
The first step, however, is for us to let go of the trap and the desire to get revenge. As long as we hold onto them, we will continue to hurt and it will be impossible to begin healing. I’ve heard it likened to holding onto a scorching hot pan and waiting for the offender to hurt. Or drinking poison and waiting for the offender to get sick.
Forgiveness is how we let go. It is a gift of God; a gift! Of course we tremendously value His forgiveness freely given to us for our many offenses against Him. However, it is given to us so that we might also give it away to others.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Forgiveness is truthful and honest about the offense. It does not downplay, excuse, or minimize it in any way. Forgiveness puts healthy boundaries in place to prevent the offense from happening again. The hard part of offense is that it lets go of the desire to repay or to avenge the offense.
This allows the past offense to remain there instead of being dragged along with us into the present and our future. This puts justice back in God’s hands and out of ours. Most importantly, this enables God to begin the healing process in our lives.
Forgiveness also protects us from further offense. It’s far easier to further hurt someone who is already hurt and vulnerable. It’s far easier to ensnare and drag off someone who is already bound in some way.
A common example of this is someone who gets caught up in the addiction of substance abuse. It may start small, but often leads to harder drugs and bigger lies and theft or sexual immorality to be able to support the addiction. Ensnared people are vulnerable to further traps. Also, hurt people hurt people.
After dealing with sin that was being celebrated at the church in Corinth, Paul followed up and wrote about them that:
2 Corinthians 2:10-11
10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Don’t take the bait of Satan! Resist offense and get some glory instead!
…it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
Resist offense and remain in the safe refuge of God’s dwelling! Offense is the very first thing that God’s dwelling protects us from.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s (yāqôš – trapper, bait-layer) snare (paḥ – a trap, a snare, the source or agent of calamity).
Regardless of who the offense comes through, the ultimate one who desires to drag us away from God’s dwelling is Satan, himself. Don’t take the bait! It’s a trap! Not today, Satan!
We can’t control the actions of others. We do control our response to them! My response is my responsibility. When jerks jerk, instead of taking the bait and getting ensnared like a hooked trout, forgive them, overlook it, and move on. Choose peace, choose freedom, choose the dwelling of the Lord and let Him deal with them.
Let your life look a bit like this mouse despite the many opportunities to take offense out there!
* Mousehunt mouse trap avoidance clip *
Let them get caught up in their own traps and become offended that you didn’t take offense at their offensiveness! Let them bruise their own finger as they keep pushing your buttons trying to get you to snap. Shake off their snares so that they no longer have any control over your life!
It’s so easy to say, but so hard to do! It requires faith. That’s why when Jesus told the apostles not, “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”, but to forgive seven times seventy times, they cried out to Him to give them faith! It really requires us to trust God and to crucify our flesh.
Everything within us, except the Holy Spirit, wants to lash out and retaliate! We’re hurt, enraged, appalled; we’re offended. It requires the wisdom, strength, and guidance of the Holy Spirit within us to be able to avoid taking the bait and to instead forgive the offense. It is possible, though!
When we let go of the offense through forgiveness, then and only then can the healing begin. Until then, we’ll still look a bit like this…
* The Grudge intro video *
Next week, we’ll learn how to move on to the next step and begin to receive healing for our hurt. Later in the series, we’ll learn how to respond when we are the offender.