Craig Groeschel - Stop Being Offended
Well, I wonder how many of you have noticed that there are so many people today that are incredibly easily offended. Who would say you've noticed, people are really easily offended? I hate to even ask this follow-up question, but how many of you noticed that oftentimes Christians can be some of the most easily offended people around? Have you notice that? Why do you think that is? Why do you think it is that Christians among so many people can be so easily offended? I'll answer that according to what I think. I think as disciples of Jesus, that is probably part of our jobs to be offended, that God calls us as followers of Jesus to point out sins, to gripe about something in culture, to be angry and to stand up for truth.
If you really love Jesus, aren't we called to be offended by and mad about sin and injustices in this world? Hashtag I'm being sarcastic. Just a little bit, but today what I wanna do is I wanna start a new message series called no offense and talk about how in our culture today so many people are easily offended and incredibly angry. And what is our response as disciples of Jesus to all the division and all the hatred and all the anger in this world? And I wanna give credit to an author and highlight the book called "Unoffendable" by Brent Hansen. "Unoffendable" was a book that I read this summer that was written several years ago, but in many ways speaks prophetically into the tension that we have in our culture today. And I'll be borrowing on some of his ideas and wanna give him credit for his work. And if you wanna read more about what it means to be unoffendable, if that's even possible, you can read his book. Which did get on my nerves at times I must say in a rather good way.
In fact, at the beginning of his book, the author actually says, he has the audacity to say that you can be unoffendable. You can be unoffendable. To be honest, when I read that it kind of offended me. Because I'm thinking, you don't know the crazy people in my life. I mean, they're everywhere and they're on and on and on and they know everything and they're loud and they're opinionated and they're often criticizing me, and he's telling me I can be unoffendable. Honestly, it's not easy to offend me. I have really tough skin. I'm not easily offended unless somebody hurts Amy or hurts my children, or betrays one of my friends, or criticizes the church, or my sermon, or my outfit. Maybe I am easily offended, I don't know. But what I discovered as I read his book and even more so searched the scriptures, God started to search my heart and to do a real healing work and to show me where I was too easily offended.
And so, what I wanna do over the next few weeks, and I'm just gonna lay out my cards, I will probably offend some of you. I will offend you with the goal of helping you get over your offenses, your anger, and maybe even your unforgiveness. And that's why the title of today's message is stop being offended. And with that, I wanna go before our heavenly Father in prayer.
God, we thank you so much for your Son Jesus for His grace for us. And we pray God that by the power of your word and the presence of your Holy Spirit, that you would do a work in our church, that when we live in a very divided world we could be a united church, united to share the goodness of Jesus and His love in a way that would change lives. We pray this in Jesus name and everybody who agrees said? Amen! Amen and amen.
What I'm gonna do today is I'm going to introduce this series and then in the next few weeks, we're going to unpack it in detail. And I want to introduce a big thought for us from the book of James, James chapter one, and we'll start in verse 19, and then we'll read more in a bit. And the half brother of Jesus says this, he says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this," and then he gives us some instructions. He said, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry". I want you to ask yourself, how are you doing with this assignment? We should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. I think we live in a culture where not very many people are listening and they're very, very fast to speak their opinions and people are incredibly easily offended and often quickly angry. We should be slow to speak, quick to listen.
In fact, when you look at Jesus and the way He lived, this is exactly how He lived. You may never have looked at this, but I'm a nerd and I like to study things like this. How many questions do you think that Jesus was asked as recorded in the gospels? I'll answer that. Jesus was asked directly 183 questions. Of those 183, how many did He respond to directly? Jesus answered directly only three of the 183 questions asked of Him. While He was asked 183 questions, He actually asked others 307 questions, why? Because Jesus was incredibly others focused. He was slow to speak and He was quick to listen. As we think about this today, our assignment would be to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. When we think about slow to become angry, I think that anger has kind of been evolving in our lifetime.
For example, if you go back a few years, the things that used to annoy me and offend me and make me angry regularly, it was kinda the smaller stuff. Like someone would cut me off in traffic. And I wanna pray hemorrhoids and blessings in the name of Jesus for them or whatever, or they would... Someone would not respond quickly to my text and that would make me angry or worse yet, they would start to respond because I'd see the bubbles and then they'd ghost me okay, that will even make me feel... It was little things like that. It was kinda like being offended in a movie that I had all my standards. Level one offense is when someone talks at a movie. Level two offense is when they talk to the movie. Level three is when they receive a phone call from someone outside and talk to someone during the movie. Level four, and this is up there with the unforgivable sin, that's when they actually dial out and talk to someone from the middle of my movie and they will answer to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for that.
Those were the normal offenses. But it seems like anger has kind of escalated in our culture today, it's all around. It's anger at the idiots on social media arguing about vacs, no vacs, mask, no mask, the visible leader who abused their power, whoever kneels at the national anthem or whoever doesn't kneel during the national anthem is getting angry about your issue, whatever your issue is, because we all have our issue. That thing that we think everybody should be upset about and we should be fixing this, and if we're Christians we're gonna do this. And it's a very single issue one amongst hundreds of issues, but you get angry about your issue and then you take it to the next level. You get angry at other people because they're not angry about the thing that angers you. Is that too real? It's that anger is kind of evolving.
And I don't know about you, but I find myself easily agitated and more easily angered. And I don't think that's pleasing to God. And it's hard to admit, and this may not be true for everyone, but I actually think that there are people that like being angry. I wouldn't say they like what angers them. I don't think I don't like the offense to anger, but I think there's a part of some people that enjoy being angry because... Like we have life groups, if you're not in a life group, a life group is where we come together and we build life and we encourage each other. I think there were some people almost have anger groups. It's their social media feed it's... You got your 73 friends on Facebook and you're all ticked about the same thing. And you just repost the things that tick you off and yeah, yeah, yeah, truth, truth, truth. And you're angry about things. It's your little group that... You're little soccer moms together, you're angry about the same thing, or your buddies at the gym, we're angry about the same thing. And when we're angry is kind of fun because we actually feel morally superior, because we're in the right and everyone else is wrong. They're evil. They're either evil or they're an idiot, or they're an evil idiot. We're easily angered. And I don't think that's pleasing to God.
So I wanna ask you the question, how effective is your anger? Like, how's it going for you? If you're easily angered, is it working? Is it making you more like Jesus? Is your anger pointing others to the intimacy and the life and the freedom and the joy that's found in Christ? How effective is your anger? Is it making you more loving? Is it drawing other people into a more joyful life? And I'll give you a little spoiler alert, the answer is gonna be negative, it's not working according to scripture. In fact, James 1:19, we'll look at our verse again and then we'll add one more verse to, in verse 20 scripture says this, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, why? Because human anger, does not produce the righteousness that God desires".
Your human anger or whatever it is, your anger at the small offense or your anger at the major betrayal. Your anger at the opposing political view or the guy that gave you the middle finger in the parking lot, whatever it is, your human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. If you're like me, you may wanna push back a little bit, but Pastor Craig, you don't understand, my anger is a righteous anger. My anger is a righteous anger because I'm angry over sin. And you might be, there probably is such a thing as a righteous hatred against something that breaks the heart of God. But I don't know if you've noticed this about righteous anger, whenever we're angry about someone's sin, it's always someone else's sin. Have you noticed that?
So if we're really honest, it might not be just like a righteous anger. In some ways it could be a self-righteous anger. Because as Christians is real easy to criticize their foul language, but ignore our own spiritual pride? It's easy to judge their sexual sin and ignore our gluttony? Have I offended you yet? 'Cause I'm coming for everybody, that's my goal. I'm coming for you. We tend to think that our anger is justified, why? Because it's our anger, because it's our anger. How effective is your anger? Are you drawing people to the grace and the goodness and the love of Jesus because of your anger? Is your anger bringing you more joy? Is it blessing and enhancing your marriage? Is it giving your children a life that they wanna emulate? One that's blessing others or always criticizing others? What we have to do eventually is this as followers of Jesus, we need to make a decision. And we need to decide when we get angry, do you want to make a point? Or do you want to make a difference? Because too many people simply wanna make a point. And if we wanna make a difference, I would submit to you, we need a different attitude and a different philosophy with dealing with the wrongs of this world. And rather than letting our flesh and our feelings and our emotion direct our action, we need to let the spirit of God direct our action.
So we're not just making a point, but we're making a difference. We're not just trying to win an argument, we're trying to win people to the grace and the goodness of Jesus. And there's a very, very... Big difference. And so, there's this really, really smart guy. He was an expert in the law and he was asking Jesus, a question. And this is a question that Jesus answered. He said, "So tell me, what's the most important thing? What's the most important thing? What's the most important thing"? And Jesus would listen to this guy and knew the stature of his heart responded with this answer, "You want me tell you what's most important"? He said in Matthew 22:37, "Jesus replied here's what it is, 'The most important thing is to love the Lord your God, with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment". And you know what the second one is? "The second one is just like it: The second one is, 'Love your neighbor as yourself".
You wanna know what's important? Is to love God with everything in you, with every bit of fiber in your body to worship Him, to love for Him, to glorify Him, to love Him in all that you do. And the way that you love Him is by loving His people and showing them grace, and having some empathy, and some compassion, and showing His goodness and love for other people. And what I was thinking about it... I realized you don't have to be angry to do that. You don't have to be ticked to be loving. In fact, I have to ask myself, can I be angry and show consistent love and grace to people? When you think about it, Jesus never ever, ever told us you have to be right. But what He did do is say, I want you to be loving. Do you wanna make a point? Or do you wanna make a difference?
Now there's a part of me. And again, I told you that God's been doing a work in me, 'cause there's a part of me that doesn't like preaching this way. There's a part of me that wants to say, you gotta get righteously angry. The only way to make a difference in this world, you gotta be angry to fight against the injustices in the world. And that feels good to me until I started doing Jujutsu and some MMA fighting. Which I am now good enough to get beat up by most people, just so you know. And so, I've learned in about a year's worth of training is that the best fighters are never the angry fighters. You wanna see somebody get beat, you just watch them lose their cool, as same it's true, if there's an effective police officer, the police officer is not angry. It's in their anger that they're often ineffective. The best soldiers aren't angry in battle, if they're doing what they've been trained to do.
So as disciples of Jesus, how do we do battle against the forces of darkness? The way we do battle is we lead with love, we don't lead with anger. We're not just trying to make a point. This is how we do it. You're doing it wrong. No, we wanna make a difference. And hearts are rarely changed by anger and accusations and judgment. As much as they are changed by empathy, and compassion, and discussion, and love. We wanna lead with love and not with anger. So, if you find yourself a little bit like me, I just kinda getting annoyed at all that's going on out there and all that. And he said, and she said, and I've got really strong opinions, don't you think for a moment that I don't have strong opinions. But I don't want my opinions to overrule my calling to share the love of Jesus and get sidetracked by little things that are not nearly as important as sharing the gospel of Jesus.
So, how do we learn to let go of that anger, that we might be carrying in our life? But I don't know are you guys like full of love, or you're ticked all the time? How do we let go of the anger and how do we overcome offenses? And I wanna give you two thoughts that can be incredibly helpful and then an assignment. How do we learn to let go of anger? The first thing I wanna encourage you to do is to lower your expectation of others. Just lower your expectations of what you expect from people. What will happen a lot of times, is someone's gonna lie to you or they're gonna let you down, or they're gonna betray you, or they're not gonna show up or they're not gonna say thank you for that thing you did, or they're not gonna call you back. They're not gonna be there for you. They're gonna forget your birthday or they're not gonna be there for your shower, and you're there for their shower. They're not gonna come to your thing and you're gonna be incredibly disappointed.
And I wanna say to you like, what do you expect? Have you never let somebody down? They're people. Instead of saying, I can't believe she would and I'm just shocked that they would, and I never thought a Christian would. We have to remember that sinners do sinful things. And if you start always elevating your expectations and thinking everyone's gonna love to you, you're always gonna be hurt. And if you wanna know what people are like, the Apostle Paul told Timothy what people are like. Some people would say that we might be living toward the end of times, and the Apostle Paul said in the end times, lemme tell you what people are like. If you wanna know what you can expect from people, this is the word of God, he said, "People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God".
And you're shocked when they don't call you back. Sinful people do sinful things. If you're not Jesus, you're not perfect. People will let you down. I hate to tell you, but I'll let you down. Maybe eventually if you follow me around and listen to everything, I'm gonna do something to let you down because I'm not perfect. And when I do let you down, promise me this, promise me you won't say God's not real. And promise me you won't say the church betrayed you because the church didn't betray you and God is still real. What happened is, a sinful person wasn't perfect, just like you're not perfect. Lower your expectations of people. When you think about Jesus, He was never, ever shocked by self-centeredness. Oh, I can't believe they're being sinful, He knew they were. He was never scandalized by immoral behavior. You just watch as you go through story after story, when Jesus walked up on the woman at the well and realized that she had been married five different times and the man that she was with, she wasn't married to, she shocking it up doing the thing with this guy.
And what does Jesus do? Did He do, oh, I can't be close to you and you're one of those types and oh, I'm not even around here. You know I've gotta get away from you. And oh, I can't wait to tell Peter and John, this is not gossip, this is prayer. We're gonna pray for her, 'cause she's looking for love in all the wrong places. Jesus didn't do that. He didn't judge or He wasn't shocked, He offered her living water. The thing that would satisfy. It would help meet the need that she was looking for. He wasn't shocked by scandalous behavior. Whenever the disciples were like posturing themselves, like who's Jesus' favorite? And who gets to sit by His side? Who's gonna be the top ranking disciple? Who's gonna be the RHM and the KOG? The right-hand man in the kingdom of God. Who's gonna be that guy?
You know I'm thinking at some point, Jesus is just gonna lose it on these idiots. Like I had enough, you kidding me? you fricking kidding me, do you remember who you were? You ought to be a tax collector and I'm the Savior I'm the Son of God, I'm right, I'm sin less, you're sinful. I'm sick of your attitude, get out of my fa... He didn't do that. He just kept on loving them. Think about Peter, I mean, we're talking inner circle Peter. And Peter is like bragging I'm your guy. You me that we're... All these other loser guys. Hey, they may not show up for you, they don't got your back, I got your back, I'm on your team, I'm always with you. You need anything, I'll never deny you. I'll always be there. If everyone else was you're down, you know I love you the most and I'll never disappoint you. And then what did Peter do? Well, he obviously lied, he betrayed Jesus, he denied him. He stabbed him in the back and he abandoned Jesus. And what did Jesus not do?
Jesus didn't quit his life group. He didn't go on a Facebook rant. All people suck. He didn't do that, right? He just forgave Peter, kept on loving Peter, gave Peter a new assignment to go out and take care of the sheep. How do you get over so easily offended? Lower your expectation, we're all sinners. We all mess up. People are gonna let you down. Don't be shocked by, Pastor Craig how do you deal with all the criticism? I just kinda know that's what people are gonna do. I don't expect anything different, lower your expectations. The second thing I wanna encourage you to do, is raise your gratitude for God's grace. Lower your expectations of other people, but raise your gratitude for God's grace. I would love to see a show of hands at all of our campuses of all of you who have never, ever, ever sinned. You've never done any wrong, you've never... You deserve God's love. You've never lied. You've never cheated. You've never looked lustfully. You've never envied. You've never gossiped on a friend. You've never farted in the elevator or whatever I don't know. Someone's like, that's not a sin. Like if you've been in an elevator, I'd say it's a sin, whatever.
You've never done anything wrong? How is it, how is it that we're made right with God? Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter two, the verse that brought me to faith in Christ. When Paul said this, "For it is by grace. It's by the grace of God that you've been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves". In other words, it's not 'cause you were good, not 'cause you were holy, not 'cause you had it all together, not 'cause you did everything right at church and never did anything wrong, it's not 'cause of you, "It is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast". It's by grace, it's by grace, it's by grace. It's by the grace of God. It's by the goodness of God. It's by the mercy of God. It's because of what Jesus did on the cross for us. It's because of His perfection. It's because of his righteousness. It's all His goodness. It's His grace that makes us right with God. It's not our goodness. It's not our works. It's all by His grace, but you may say, but they lied about me. I've lied too, But he's so arrogant. I can be arrogant too.
Well, they stole from me. Well, I've stolen too. And I'm gonna quit listing all my sins before you leave the church, but you know what I'm talking about, right? I need the grace of God. I need the grace of God. Joy, where's Joy? Can I have my stone? Thank you, my baby. That's my daughter Jojo. It makes me feel comfortable to have my stone. And I don't wanna minimize, whatever hurt some of you might be enduring right now, because I know we've talked about politics and we've talked about friends being rude, but I know a lot of you are facing some really deep and significant pain. Maybe someone abused one of your children or maybe a spouse you trusted for years was living a double life. And you might be facing a horrible, horrible betrayal right now. No matter what I say is a level of offense. Whenever we've been hurt, whenever we're angry, there tends to be a thought that I am right, and they're wrong. I'm right, they're wrong. And I'm justified in my anger. And if you're not careful, your anger then will justify your right to hold the stone.
It's not that you're gonna throw it, but you just like to hold it just in case you ever need to throw it. You hurt my child and I may hurt you. You let me down, I like to hold my stone. And then before long it's like you're spreading false information or you voted for the wrong candidate or that's what you believe about master. That's what you believe about vaccine. And I hold my stone because I'm right, and you're wrong. And my anger gives me the right to hold the stone. And in John chapter eight, there was a woman that was caught in a sinful act. She and another guy were caught in the act of adultery. And there was an anger group of men, gathered around holding their stones, saying, "She deserves death, she sinned. Let's stone her for her sin". And Jesus wasn't shocked, and He wasn't angry, and He wasn't offended, but instead He knelt down and started scribbling something in the sand. And we don't know from the gospels exactly what he said in the sand. But tradition tells us that perhaps he was scribbling the sins of the men who wanted to stone her, because scripture says, one by one from the oldest to the youngest, they all started walking away.
And Jesus looked on and said, "Essentially, you're angry? And you wanna do something to right the wrongs? Then whoever of you has never, ever sinned, you can throw the first stone". There are so many injustices in this world and they break the heart of God. And it's easy for us to wanna be righteously angry, but I would submit to you that really angry people have a hard time making a really big difference. If we deal with enough anger at some point, Jesus may say, "Lower your expectations of others, raise your gratitude for grace. And because of the goodness of God and because of what you've been forgiven, it's time to drop your stone. It's time to drop your stone". Because Jesus didn't just call us to be right, but He called us to be loving. And our goal I'll tell you, my goal, is not to make a point.
My goal is to make a difference. And my goal is not to convert you to my view on some peripheral issue, my goal is to help you see the love of the one who changed my life, and His name is Jesus. And Jesus was quick to listen, and He was slow to speak, and He was slow to become angry. And if that's the way Jesus lived and loved, that's the way I wanna live in love why? Because human anger, my human anger and your human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. So come on church, let's rise above it. Let's lead with love. And let's make a difference in this point in this world, because God can use you. Let's lead with love.
Father, we ask and pray, that your Holy Spirit would do a work in our hearts. God, I'll start with me, would you forgive me when I'm easily angered and lead me on a path of healing, of compassion, of grace and of love.
At all of our churches today, if you would say, yeah, I don't wanna be wrongly and easily offended. I don't wanna make just a point, but I want God to use me to make a difference. If that's you today, would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift them up. Those of you watching online and say yes, God help me make a difference.
Father, I pray that as our little part of your body, a small part of the body of Christ, you would help us to be faithful, to lead with love and all that we do. God, wherever we've been wronged and wherever we're offended, God help us to trust you to bring about justice. If you call us to act, God empower us to act with love. To respond with grace. And when we speak words of truth, God may they'd be words of truth spoken in love. God help us to heal, help us to get over that little offenses and God to forgive even the big ones. Help us to love God, even as you've loved us.
As you keep praying today at all of our different churches, I want you to think about the grace of God. There are some of you guess what? It's time for you to experience God's grace. I know there are so many of you that you may be really hard on yourselves and you wonder, where do you stand with God right now? You might battle with feelings of guilt as I did for so much of my life. I'm guilty because I sinned, because I hurt people, because I lied, because I did things that were wrong. And scripture is very clear about how we're made right with God. And I wanna tell you again, it is not by our human effort. It's never by our own good works. The only way we're made right with God is by grace. The grace of God, through faith in Jesus, who is Jesus? He's the perfect Son of God, who loved those who were breaking the heart of God, sinning against God. He loved them exactly where they were. And Jesus died in our place. The righteous one for the unrighteous. He died and God raised Him from the dead, so anybody and this includes you, it doesn't matter what you've done.
It doesn't matter how dark your life is. Anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, the name that is above every name, God will hear your prayers and He'll forgive your sins and He'll make you brand new. In fact, there are those of you you're in a church building or you're watching today because this is your moment, God is reaching out to you, He's loving you. Those who say yes, I need His forgiveness. I need His grace. Today I'm stepping away from my sin and I'm giving my life to Jesus. When you call on Him, and He hears your prayer, He forgives your sins. Those who say yes today by faith, I give my life to Jesus. That's your prayer, lift your hands high now, all of those say yes, lift them high. You've got hands going up here and over here as well, hands all over the place. Church Online or just type in the chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus. Just type that in the chat. And as we have people all over the world, would you pray with those around you? Nobody prays alone just pray:
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins. Jesus save me. Make me brand new. Fill me with your spirit, so I could follow you. My life is not my own. I give it to you. Thank you for new life. Now you have mine. In Jesus' name I pray.