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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joel Osteen » Joel Osteen - Living Unoffended

Joel Osteen - Living Unoffended

Joel Osteen - Living Unoffended
TOPICS: Offense, Worry, Stress, Bitterness

I want to talk to you today about Living Unoffended. We all have opportunities to get upset and be offended: co-worker is rude, someone cut you off in traffic, a friend leaves you out. It's easy to get sour, try to pay people back, hold a grudge. We don't realize: that's poisoning our life. That offense is like a toxin. It's not affecting the other person, it's souring our joy. The apostle Paul had all kinds of opportunities to be offended: people lied about him, he was misunderstood, not accepted by religious leaders. He said in Philippians 3:13, "This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and reaching forward to what lies ahead". He was saying, "One thing I'm good at is letting things go, not taking the offense, not dwelling on what happened yesterday. I put all my energies into reaching to what's up ahead".

You have to have this system of release, when you don't hold on to everything. "They said something rude? I'm letting it go. They hurt my feelings, I didn't like it, but I'm letting it go. They left me out it, wasn't fair, but I'm letting it go". If you hold on to that offense, it's not only going to weigh you down, it's going to keep you from reaching forward. That's what's stopping some people. They're not seeing new levels, not tapping into their potential because they're living in yesterday, dwelling on what someone said, how they were mistreated, "They did me wrong". You can't stop all that from happening, how you handle the offense is what's important. Forgiveness should be a continual thing, not one and done, we're continually releasing, and continually letting things go.

We need to see the offense as a toxin, as a poison. You're dealing with something very powerful. The offense is like a seed: if you keep dwelling on it, letting it upset you, it's going to take root and grow. It will begin to contaminate your life, cause you to live sour, "Why'd they leave me out? Why'd they walk away? Why were they disrespectful"? You can't control any of that. What you can control is whether or not you take the offense. If you'll develop this system of release, of continual forgiveness, every day letting go and reaching forward, then that offense won't affect you.

"They left me out, that's hurtful, but I'm not going to dwell on it, I know God will make it up to me. They said something disrespectful, made me look bad in front of my colleagues, but I know God is my vindicator, he's fighting my battles. I'm gonna let it go and keep reaching forward". Do you have this system of release or are you holding on to everything? Have you learned the process of continual forgiveness or are you letting those seeds take root and contaminate your life?

Luke 17 Jesus was talking to his disciples, getting them prepared to go out and do great things. He wasn't going to be with them much longer, this was an important time. He could have talked to them about having more faith, believing for bigger impact, but he said in verse 1, "As you go out, there's this one more important thing you need to know. It is impossible that offenses will not come". He was saying, "As you go through life there will be rude people, grouchy co-workers, family members that get on your nerves. It's impossible to not have offenses". He gave them this somber news, then he gave them the solution. He said, "If your brother trespasses against you seven times a day, forgive them".

Now I can understand once a day, maybe twice a day, perhaps three times a day, but four times and you're still getting on my nerves? Five times, you better go find someone else to bother. When he said seven times, he's talking about continual forgiveness. He's saying: don't let that poison in and contaminate your spirit. You have to deal with offenses quickly. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to release. If you dwell on it for a day, think about it for a month, it'll get bigger, become more hurtful. You'll be sour, short with people, irritable, not enjoy your family. That could have all been avoided if you would have forgiven quickly. Quit letting offenses take root. It's impossible that they're not going to come.

Let me make it more practical: it's impossible to live with your family and they not hurt your feelings, they not get on your nerves, they not disappoint you, say things that they shouldn't. They're not against you, they're just human, they have flaws. Sometimes people don't mean to, other times they do, either way you can't let that poison get in you. If you take that offense, live sour, revengeful, you are wasting your emotional energy. You only have so much each day, it's not an unlimited supply. Do you know how much emotional energy it takes to hold a grudge, to live bitter, to think about what they did? That's energy you're not going to have for your dreams, to love your children, to enjoy your spouse.

Next time someone offends you, try a different approach: release it and move forward. "I'm not going to think about it. God, I know you'll make my wrongs right, I'm putting all my energies into what's ahead, and not into what's behind". If you'll get in this habit of forgiving quickly, not giving it the time of day, then it won't take root. The reason some people are offensive is they have issues they haven't dealt with, they have toxins, hurts, wounds, and they become bitter and angrier. At times they'll lash out at you, they'll be disrespectful, say things that hurt your feelings. Number one: they don't control your destiny. What they say doesn't determine who you are. Don't take that bait and get engaged in a battle that you're not supposed to fight. You get upset, start trying to pay them back, "Man, two can play at this game", you're letting their poison get in you. Best thing you can do is release it. Let it go and keep moving forward.

The enemy loves to use offenses as distractions, he loved to get you upset, trying to prove to people who you are, trying to pay them back. Even if you accomplish all that, you're no further down the road. You've just wasted valuable time and energy fighting a battle that doesn't matter. If that battle is not between you and your destiny, you're not supposed to engage. Goliath stood between David and his purpose, he fought that battle. But a few days earlier David's older brother Eliab, he made fun of David in front of all of his colleagues. He belittled David, and tried to make him feel small. But it says in first Samuel 17, "David turned and walked away".

Had he gotten distracted, taken the offense, tried to prove to his brother who he was, set him straight, he would have missed fighting Goliath. The scripture says he ran toward Goliath, but he walked away from Eliab. The mark of a champion is knowing what battles to fight, and what battles to walk away from. Are you fighting battles that don't matter? Engaged in conflict of pity, just trying to prove to people who you are, set them straight? If you win, what have you accomplished? Are you any closer to your destiny or was it a distraction? There are very few Goliaths that we'll face, but there are many Eliabs, many offenses. When you learn to walk away from what doesn't matter, you'll have the strength, the favor, the anointing to defeat the Goliaths, to defeat what does matter.

I was at the airport a few years ago in the security line, putting my bag through the x-ray machine. And this one worker was very aggressive, very forceful, demanding, hollering instructions so loudly like he was angry. "Take off your coats. All electronics in a separate container. No liquids in your carry-on", barking all these orders early in the morning. I put my bag in, and it went through the machine, and it got pulled over to the side. He screamed out, "Whose bag is this"? I didn't want my bag anymore, but I finally said, "It's mine". He looked at me like he's about to explode. He said, "I told you no water in the bag, what are you doing"? I thought I'm going on a trip, I'm not in boot camp, besides I didn't put any water in my bag. There was a beautiful blonde-haired girl I was traveling with. And I wanted to say it's her fault, but I just found said, "Sorry about that", and he put the bag back through the screening.

A co-worker came over and whispered in his ear, "That's Pastor Osteen". He turned around and said, "Pastor Osteen, how are you my friend"? I wanted to say, "Get behind me Satan". He said, "I watch you every week". I thought it's not working at all. My point is: life is too short to let other people dump their garbage on you. You can't stop it from happening, but you can release it and move forward. Some people, they have all this hurt, and anger, and offense: what didn't work out, who did them wrong, because they never let anything go. Like a big garbage can, they're carrying around all this trash. Sometimes they'll try to dump their garbage on you. You have to be smart enough to say, "No, thanks, you can dump it, but I'm not going to take it. I'm gonna stay in peace and enjoy this day".

Jesus was telling his disciples in this passage, "I'm sending you out to impact the world, but along with this favor there will be offenses, people that don't understand you, people that try to discredit you". As God promotes you and gives you more influence, you have to have thicker skin. You can't be easily offended. People will come against you, say things that are not true, try to mischaracterize you: don't sink down to their level, that's not your battle. Keep releasing and reaching. The only way they can affect you is if you take the bait. You get offended, become sour and try to prove to them who you are.

The scripture says (Matthew 5:8), "The pure in heart will see God". That word "Pure" in the original Greek language is where we get our word "Catheter". A catheter is used during surgery to take toxins out of the body. This is saying: if you're going to see God, you're going to have his favor, his blessing, you have to keep the impurities out. You have to have this catheter so to speak to where when an offense comes, no big deal, it flows through and release. "They hurt my feelings, they were disrespectful, he shouldn't have hollered at me", you can't stop that from coming, but you can stop it from staying. You have to have that catheter to get rid of the toxins. The problem with some people is they've never learned this system of release. They're holding on to everything, what someone said, how they were treated wrong, now their heart is not pure. There's unforgiveness, resentment, anger. That's why they can't see God.

Is your vision being limited because you're not dealing with offenses properly? Is the favor on your life, the blessings, the creativity not showing up like it should because you're holding on to hurt, living offended, bitter? The good news is: you will see things clear up if you'll start releasing, start forgiving quickly, not letting these toxins build up. That's clouding your vision, it's keeping you from seeing the victory and the abundance that God has for you. I've known people that were favored, they were talented, but they got distracted by what people were saying, bitter over who did them wrong, trying to prove to people they were not what was said. They became defensive, harsh, critical, it was all born out of an offense that they didn't let go of.

If you hold on to offenses, they'll begin to change who you are. But if you'll be a David, walk away from the Eliabs, walk away from the insults, the disrespect, then God can trust you with more. We have to pass these tests: when offense comes, that's an opportunity to show God what you're made of. The easy thing is to get offended, be rude to someone that's rude back to you, live bitter, upset, angry. That's the carnal way to handle it, but we're supposed to walk by the spirit, and not the flesh.

When you say, "No, thanks, I'm not taking the offense. God, you're in control. I'm going to release it and keep moving forward", that's when God can trust you with more. He'll never let you face situations that are too much for you to handle. The next time you're tempted to get upset, be offended, pay somebody back, try a different approach, "I can handle this. I have the grace for where I am. I'm going to stay cool, remain calm, and let God fight my battles". That's passing the test. That's keeping your heart pure. That's when you'll see God, you'll see his blessing, his favor, his goodness on your life in a new way.

In the position that I'm, in front of a lot of people, there are many opinions, people that don't understand, that mischaracterize, say things that are not true. I do what I'm asking you to do: I don't pay any attention to it. I'm not offended, I don't let that poison get in. Life is good, I'm happy, God has blessed me more than I can imagine. Your time is too valuable, God's been too good to you to live offended, discouraged over what they said, bitter who left you out - rise above that.

People can say what they want, but if you don't let it in, it's like water up of a duck's back, it has no effect. Don't let the negative chatter, people that are never going to be for you get you distracted fighting battles that don't matter, bitter over people that are not a part of your destiny, worried about what someone thinks that's never going to understand you. That's the enemy trying to use those offenses to poison your spirit, deceive you into changing who you are. Keep your heart pure, ignore it. They have issues, they haven't dealt with, that's why they're spewing the poison. They don't like themselves, how are they ever going to like you? Release it and move forward.

When Jesus told his disciples they were going to have to forgive and offense seven times a day. The next thing they said was, "Lord, increase our faith" (Luke 17:5). They didn't pray, "God, increase our faith so we can do bigger miracles, increase our faith so we can have a bigger vision". They said, "Increase our faith so we can forgive the wrongs, so we can let go of the offenses, so we can keep these toxins out". And sometimes it takes more faith to keep your heart pure than it does to accomplish a dream. We're praying for faith for a breakthrough, faith for a new level, and that's good, I believe in that, but like these disciples, have you ever prayed, "God increased my faith so I can let go of these hurts. Increase my faith so I can forgive this person that betrayed me. God increased my faith so I can keep my heart pure, and keep moving forward with my life"?

One time my father received a letter in the mail from a minister in another country. This minister was very prominent and well known. The letter was very hurtful and condemning. My father had been married early in life, and went to a divorce, and this minister was telling him how he was not qualified, how he shouldn't be pastoring. He accused my father of things that weren't true, just people stirring up trouble, spreading rumors. My father was very offended, he thought this is not right, so he wrote the man a letter back that was just as strong and forceful, telling him, "Who do you think you are? You don't know what you're talking about. You should mind your own business", on and on.

My father sealed the envelope, put the stamp on it, walked out to the mailbox. When he put it in the mail, he heard a voice saying, "You got him back, didn't you"? Daddy said, "I sure did". The voice said, "You set him straight, didn't you"? And he said, "Yes, I did". Then the voice said, "You repaid evil for evil, didn't you"? My father realized that was God speaking to him. He felt convicted. He was drawn into a battle that he wasn't supposed to engage in. That offense was starting to take root. The scripture (Romans 12:21) says, "You overcome evil with good". When you're offended, you never win by returning the offense. All that's doing is poisoning your spirit. You overcome offenses by letting them go, not responding, not dwelling on it, not letting that poison in.

He walked back to the mailbox, tore the letter up, never sent it. 16 years later that man showed up at Lakewood. He said to my father with big tears running down his cheeks, "I'm so sorry about the letter. I was wrong. I had been hurt, and in that anger I lashed out at you". He asked my father to forgive him, their relationship was restored. But that was a test that my father had to pass. Had he let that offense take root, begin to change and become bitter, vindictive, angry, he would have never seen God's favor and blessing like he did. When an offense comes, you're dealing with something very powerful. That seed is alive. If you let it get in you, what's ironic, is you will become what you don't like. My father would have become like that man: harsh, angry, judgmental. You can't take offense lightly. That seed can change your nature, sour your attitude and limit your vision.

In the Book of Esther there was a man named Haman. He worked for the king, and he was promoted to prime minister, making him the most powerful person in the Persian empire next to the king. He had all this authority, respect and honor. He wore a ring that had the king's seal on it. When he passed by, people would bow down to show their honor. But there was a man named Mordecai that wouldn't bow down. This made Haman so upset, he was so offended, the scripture says he was filled with rage, couldn't sleep at night, couldn't enjoy his family, didn't appreciate his position. All because one man wouldn't bow down, one man wouldn't show respect.

Here the whole city would bow when he walked by, but this one man has him sour, angry, upset. He could have said, "Big deal, you won't bow, that didn't change me. I'm still the prime minister". But he said in chapter 5, "All this honor is meaningless, as long as I see Mordecai sitting at the gate". He had all the blessing, favor, he was leading the country, but one man wouldn't respect him. Instead of ignoring it, not paying it any attention, moving forward, that's all he focused on. He ended up losing his position and losing his life.

If you allow offense in, it can cause you to lose perspective, blow things out of proportion, fight battles that don't matter. Start ignoring disrespect. You can't make people like you, make them change their mind. If you stay focused on the offense, you'll start majoring on the minors, miss all the great things God has blessed you. That person at work doesn't like you? That's okay, you don't need them to like you to fulfill your destiny. There are plenty of people that do like you. Don't become focused on it. Let it go, that's not your battle.

The scripture says, "It's the little foxes that spoil the vines". One person out of the whole Persian empire wouldn't respect him, and he was full of rage. Look at how out of proportion things become when we let an offense take root. Are there any little foxes that are spoiling your joy, little things you're holding on to, what someone said, who treated you wrong, who left you out? Those little offenses, if you allow them to stay, will turn into big issues that can limit your life.

When my brother Paul was 17 years old, someone that was a mentor to him, someone he looked up to told him that he didn't think Paul had what it took to become a medical doctor. Paul was at this vulnerable stage, very impressionable, when you need people speaking faith over you, telling you you can do great things. Was just the opposite. Paul was offended, hurt his feelings, and wounded his spirit. Instead of letting it go, not paying any attention, the seed began to take root. He began to have this unhealthy competitiveness, this drive that said, "I'm going to prove to you who I am". It developed into this underlying anger. He became negative, critical, judgmental. He said, "I was like a boiling furnace. If you got close to me, and I opened those furnace doors, you were going to get burned".

20 years later he was talking with his pastor. He said, "Paul why do you have all this rage in you, it's like you're about to explode"? Paul's mind went back to when he was 17 years old, when he was told he couldn't become a doctor. Well, now he was a successful surgeon, he had proved them wrong, but he wasn't satisfied. He still felt this resentment, this anger, it was poisoning his life. Here he had all these great things, but he couldn't enjoy it. That's how powerful offense is. If you let that seed in, it can grow and become a root of bitterness, where it's contaminating every area of your life: your attitude, your relationships, your vision.

Paul knew he had to dig up that root, and he lived in little rock, but he came to Houston and went to the exact place where that offense took root, where that person told him he didn't have what it takes. He said, "God, today I'm forgiving them. I'm letting it go. I'm getting rid of this offense. I'm going to live my life free". That day was a turning point. He felt that anger and resentment begin to lift off of him, chains were broken, and that's when he started enjoying his success, and enjoying what God had blessed him with.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 73:21, "I didn't realize how bitter I had become". I wonder if we're carrying around offenses, anger, resentment and we don't even realize it. It's poison in our spirit, keeping us from our dreams, limiting our creativity. What's causing you to be that way? You're supposed to be free and positive and joyful. Like Paul, you have to get honest with yourself: maybe there are some bitter roots you need to pull up. You've allowed offenses to stay, that's okay, today can be the uprooting day, today can be the day you let things go. You forgive who hurt you, not focus on what they did, not be obsessed like Haman over who's not celebrating you, living to prove to them who you are.

You have nothing to prove! God is proud of you! God is cheering you on! He's going to make up for the wrongs! Hurts come, but God heals! Unfair things happen, but God pays you back. We all have some ashes, but God gives you beauty for the ashes. Now, do your part: keep the offenses out. Develop this habit of letting go and reaching forward, living in a continual state of forgiveness. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: things that have hindered you are being broken right now. Offenses are being uprooted. Freedom is coming, greater joy, greater peace, greater favor, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen?
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