Jentezen Franklin - Overcoming Offense
Muhammad Ali got on an airplane and he was flying on a commercial flight somewhere, and the stewardess noticed that he didn't have his seatbelt buckled. The world-famous boxer who said that he was invincible. And the stewardess looked at him and said, "Mr. Ali, please fasten your seatbelt". And he looked back and smiled and said, "Superman don't need no seatbelt". To which she looked back at him and said, "Superman don't need no airplane. Fasten your seatbelt". Nobody is Superman and no woman is Wonder Woman. We're all very vulnerable. We all have weaknesses.
And I want to focus today on something all of us have a weakness in. Luke 17:1 is what the lesson is about. "It is impossible that offenses will not come, but woe to him through whom they come". Jesus said, "It is impossible that offenses should not come to you". It's just impossible for you to live your life. You're going to be offended. Something, someone is going to say, is going to offend you. It's not possible to escape it. It's coming. It probably already has happened. And here's a newsflash: it's going to happen again. And again and again. There is no way out of it, Jesus said. It will happen. There's no one exempt. Nobody's Superman. Nobody's Wonder Woman. This one's going to get you. There's no way to avoid it.
Somebody's going to shame you. Somebody's going to outrage you. Somebody's going to insult you. Somebody's going to humiliate you. You're going to get offended. You're going to get hurt. You're going to get angry. You're going to get violated. Didn't you come to church to hear this? Your pride's going to be insulted. It is a biblical fact. Jesus Himself said it is impossible for you to escape being offended in your lifetime. It's going to happen. And since it's impossible to escape it, you've got to learn how to deal with it, because not being offended is unachievable. It's not doable. There are no exemptions from it. It's going to happen to you.
It's interesting that in New Zealand, only a certain amount of the birds can fly. Forty-one percent of the birds in New Zealand are flightless. The kiwi, the penguin, and on and on, they cannot fly. And here's the reason why: there are no predators on the island of New Zealand. They do not have snakes. They do not have wolves. They do not have bobcats. They don't have anything that would eat the birds; therefore, if there are not predators, there's no need to fly. And when there's no need to fly, you lose, eventually, the ability to fly.
If you go to New Zealand, and I've gone many times and preached, you'll see birds walking around everywhere. And they don't have wings, they have little knobs. They've lost their wings through the generations because nothing ever opposed them. Nothing ever came against them. Nothing ever was a predator in their life. So it's a predator that creates the ability to fly. If you want to scratch around in the barnyard for the rest of your life, then just don't have any enemies and just don't have any problems and just don't go through any offense. But if you want to soar like an eagle, you can, but it's going to require some opposition.
In other words, airplanes take off going into the wind. If you talk to any pilot, any pilot will tell you when they're taking off in an airplane, they want to know which direction the wind is blowing so that they can go into the wind because it's the wind that gives the airplane something called the lift. Without the wind opposing the wings of that plane, it won't get lift. And it's so important that we understand that 41% of the birds in New Zealand cannot fly because they have never had opposition. They've never had a predator. They've never had a problem. And you'll never "mount up with wings as eagles" until you go through attack and you go through persecution and you go through being offended.
Opposition enables you to do things you could not do had you not had opposition coming against you. It's what gives you lift. It'll make you lift your prayer life. It'll make you lift, you'll run to God. You'll "mount up with wings as eagles" and fly to God. And if you don't have the opposition, you'll stay right where you are. God intends for the winds of contrary opposition to take you higher. They'll make you fly to God.
Now, what was taking place in this story in the Old Testament, in 2 Samuel 10, is this. David was king of Israel and he heard one of his old friends, King Nahash, had died. And he thought to himself, "He's been kind to me. He was always kind to me. He was a good man. So I want to show some honor and be kind back to him. And I know his son is taking the throne, so as a gesture," like we would do here in America, if we heard, you know, a president in some other nation had died, we, out of respect, would, the President himself would go or he'd send his Vice President or he'd send some high official to show condolences and to show and hopefully give some comfort and share and say, "We care enough to send representatives on behalf of America to grieve with your nation".
Well, this is what David was trying to do. He was trying to show kindness. So he sent two of his mightiest men in his army to go to this foreign country, the children of Ammon, the Ammonites. Their king had died and his son was taking the throne. And when they got there, someone had gotten into the king, the young prince's ear, and said, "Do you really think that they're coming to show comfort to us? To show respect and honor to us? They're not coming for that. They're coming to kill. They're coming to spy out the land. They're measuring the walls. They're trying to figure out. They're here spying this place out. They're getting intel that they're going to take back and they're noticing where our weaknesses are and they're going to invade our city and take our city".
They falsely accused them and the Bible said that this prince ordered that half of their beard be shaved off. And I'll explain how of a humiliating thing that was. And then, their skirt or their robe be cut off all the way in the back, up to their buttocks, to expose their rear ends. How humiliating! Half their beard cut off. I think it's funny, whether you do or not. And do you want me to illustrate? And they cut off and they're showing their, it's like spank babies. I mean, for the mighty men, it probably would have been better had they beat 'em up or stabbed 'em or wounded 'em or cut 'em. But to go home like this, to go home totally humiliated, half of your beard is gone; and on top of that, your rear end is showing and, spanked baby, go home. And they're humiliated.
I'm not sure they would have got a lot of sympathy from other Bible characters. I doubt Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have been very sympathetic. "We got thrown into the fiery furnace, and all that happened to you is you got a little trim to your beard and you're showing a little of your underwear? That's not persecution. You ought to go through what we went through". And maybe Daniel would have said, "My goodness, that's nothing compared to what my enemies did to me. They threw me in the lions' den". But they're going through it.
The Bible said they leave that place humiliated. The cutting off of the beard. The beard, in Middle Eastern thinking still to this day, was distinction and honor and maturity. Like in the Middle East, they were tampering, when he shaved half the beard off of these men, they were tampering with their rank, with their identity, with their pride. They sent them home like children, humiliated. Who they were, a token of their authority had been cut off, and now they're showing, their back parts are exposed.
How humiliating! And it all happened doing the king's business, doing exactly what they were told to do. If you live for God and you seek to do His will, you will find yourself wounded doing God's perfect will. No one is exempt from it. If you get in a church like this, you will get wounded. Isn't that beautiful? Wow. Sing in the choir? You will get wounded. Usher? You will get wounded. Park cars? Somebody's gonna flip you a bird. You will get wounded. Doing the will of God is somebody's gonna roll their eyes, somebody's gonna talk about you. Welcome to life.
I love this story because the Bible said as they were approaching, coming back home, these mighty men, again, these were not weak men. These were not just little wimpy guys. They didn't even go prepared to fight. They probably would have fought, but they didn't even have their weapons with them. They were going on a peace journey, a comfort journey. And now, they're coming home humiliated. They're looking at each other and about to come home to their hometown, and David hears what happened and he sends a man out and says, "Don't let 'em come into the town. I don't want them in the town circle, to be humiliated and the other people and the other mighty men to see them. Tell them, instead, to go to Jericho".
Now, listen to this. Jericho means sweet fragrance. "I want 'em to go over there to that sweet place and I want 'em to stay there and lodge there until their beard grows back. And we'll get some, we'll get a seamstress down there and we'll get their rear ends covered up. And everything's going to be fine. But I need 'em just to go to Jericho," the sweet place. Go to Jericho. Listen to the instructions. When you get offended, here it is...
I love the fact that he didn't let 'em come in and everybody see 'em in their shame. It reminds me of the prodigal son story. When the father heard his prodigal son was coming home, covered in the slop of the pig pen, he ran out with the robe, with the shoes; covered him. Didn't want all those people to see him in his condition. I'm thankful we got that kind of King, who doesn't want to humiliate us and wouldn't want people to see our shame. When somebody offends you, listen now, just go to Jericho and stay sweet. Your beard will grow back. Your beard, your respect will come back. Your honor will come back. Your authority, it's, I know what they did was bad, but calm down. Calm down. It'll all come back. It'll grow back.
Don't get mad. Don't get angry. Don't seek vengeance. If you'll just stay sweet, everything's going to get better. It's going to work for your good. Just keep the right spirits. Go to Jericho, the sweet place, and stay sweet. Stay at Jericho 'til your beard comes back. I promise you, everything's going to be alright. It's so hard to stay sweet when we get offended. The natural person just wants to get in a shouting match, get in a fight. "You cut my rear end and exposed it; I'm going to do something even worse to you. Here I go". And we want to go after and retaliate.
The king said, "You go to Jericho. You stay sweet 'til your beard grows back". I think of Romans 14 right here. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, neither give place to wrath; for 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord". Two things God says are "mine" in the scriptures: the tithe is "mine" and vengeance is "mine". And don't you touch either one. It belongs to God and God alone. And you need to understand that God doesn't take offense lightly; I'm saying to you today God always repays. He is a God of vengeance. And all He's asking you to do is stay sweet and give the vengeance part to Him and quit talking about it, quit being angry about it, quit letting it obsess your life and let it go. Woe unto them that offend.
Exodus 25:13 said that the Philistines, listen to this, they worked by revenge with old hatred. Do you know how many families is old hatred because they don't even know why they don't like each other, why their side of the family don't speak to that side of the family. It's old hatred. And the Philistines were always working by revenge out of old hatred for the Israelites. And I'm saying to you that if we don't watch it, our families can become like the Hatfields and the McCoys; that generation after generation after generation, there's this fighting stuff going on. And at some point, we need to go to Jericho. We need to shut up about it and let God deal with it and move on. And I want to close with this.
I want to talk about unforgiveness for just a moment. When you get in a place of offense and unforgiveness, it's like a tumor. It's like a tumor of unforgiveness. You can act like you don't have it, but everywhere you go, everybody else sees it. You look like the hunchback of Notre Dame but you act, holding your Bible, "Praise the Lord". And when you get the tumor of unforgiveness. Here's the reason why people say they can't forgive. "I can't forgive and get rid of this. And you know, it's big and it's uncomfortable and it's sore". Ow.
And sometimes when people touch that part of your life, you overreact because it's so sensitive and your children touched it and it wasn't what they did; that's been there and it's gotten infected and every time somebody does something, you're fighting with your husband but it's not about that argument; it's about that. They touched that. You're fighting with your children, but they touched that. And the reason that people say they can't get rid of the tumor of unforgiveness and offense, they say, number one, "I can't forgive them because what they did to me is too big".
Well, it looks like that's why you'd want to get rid of it. The bigger it is, the bigger the thing you carry in your soul. This is what you've got going on if you could see yourself spiritually. And the bigger the offense, the more you need to get rid of it. "Well, time will heal it. I'll just ignore it and it'll go away". You'll carry that the rest of your life. It ain't going to go away. You're not just going to wake up and it's going to fall off in the shower. It's going to be there. "Well, I'll forgive when they ask me and say that they're sorry and tell me they're sorry. Then I'll forgive".
Well, notice that they're at Six Flags and you're going around like this. And you're waiting on them to come ask you before you get rid of this that's in you? Last one. "I'll forgive, and I would forgive, but I know what'll happen. They'll just do it again". Well, that's a huge incentive to forgive. If they're going to do it again, that just means you're going to have another one over here. So why don't you go on and get rid of this one and if they do it again, you'll get it again; but get rid of that one. You sure don't want four or five or six of these. And somebody else, you got 'em in your knees and everywhere else. You need to go to Jericho.
I conclude with this: 1993, Delta Force, United States Army in east Africa, a place called Somalia. It was the biggest gunfight since Vietnam. They were going in to nab a drug lord. And suddenly, the Blackhawk helicopter that they were going in on was shot with a ground-to-air missile. Our soldiers were killed, many of them, and their bodies were dragged through the streets, and the opposing army screaming and celebrating. They sent in a team to recover those bodies and the men that might have survived, and they became under tremendous fire.
Hundreds and hundreds out-numbered, thousands out-numbered and gunfire coming, AK-47s, from every direction. If you've seen the movie Blackhawk Down, this is the story I'm talking about. In the book, they tell about being pinned into a building and gunfire coming from every direction. And the soldier in charge, the captain, turns to a lieutenant and he says, "Get in the truck. We've got to get out of here. Get in the truck and drive". And the response of the lieutenant is, "But Captain, I'm shot". And the answer of the captain is a classic. He said, "Everybody's shot. Shut up. Get in the truck and drive".
We're all wounded. We're all offended. We've all been shot. We've all had somebody do something to us. Shut up, meaning don't whine, don't complain, quit feeling sorry for yourself. Enough victimization. Get over it. We're all bleeding. We've all got bullet holes. We all have been wounded. John 16, Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation". We're all shot. Shut up and drive. We don't quit. We don't draw back.
Proverbs 24:10 says, "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small". I love that verse. If you quit when the gunfire's coming, when everything's being hit all around you, that's when everything in us says, "I give up, I quit, I'm done, I'm... This is the end. Phooey on this". But the Bible said that if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Stay sweet. Go to Jericho. If you don't know where to go, I'll tell you where to drive that truck to. Go to Jericho. Stay sweet. Stay kind. People rip you off, people steal from you, people do you wrong, don't get bitter, don't get angry, don't get hate-filled. Go to Jericho. Watch God.
If you'll stay sweet, watch God. Watch Him defend you. Watch Him bring revenge, vengeance like you cannot imagine. When you do the right thing, the struggle is real but so is the blessing. I want you to give God a great praise right now. In your tribulation, gunfire going off, stand up on your feet, lift up your hands at every campus, lift 'em high right where you're standing. Come on. Lift your voice. Don't get quiet. Raise your voice and say:
God, I'm not quitting here. I'm not dying here. I'm not licking my wounds here. I'm not giving up. I realize that even the opposition is giving me lift. It's going to raise me up. It's going to cause me to go to a higher place. I'm going to mount up with wings as eagles. I couldn't get there without the opposition.
Wow! It's the opposition that brings the revelation. This kind of message is what we need; that the enemy wants you mad at God, mad at people, mad at others, and then ultimately to get you defeated enough to quit. But I'm not going to quit. And when I get to heaven, God will wipe every tear from my eye. But in this life... See, there's another revelation. We shout over that part, "He'll wipe the tears"; but in this life, you're going to cry over some things. But God, one day, will say, "You remember that? Watch this". His hand will wipe every tear from our eyes. Wow!