Joyce Meyer - Dealing with Offense - Part 1
Thank you for joining me today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today I'm gonna be teaching on the subject of offense. So many people today are angry at someone about something. I would venture to say that there's probably more people that are angry about something or offended than those that are not. And yet, the Bible warns us over, and over, and over about the dangers of being offended. And so, I'm praying that your eyes will be open today that you would see any area in your life, where maybe you're offended, and you don't even realize that you are?
Sometimes I think we can get things stuck on the inside of us and they've been there so long we just have lived with it to the point where it becomes normal for us or natural. And sometimes we make so many excuses for our anger. But we have to realize that it's never justified no matter what somebody's done to you, your anger, your unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, being offended, it's never justified simply because God tells us not to do it.
And I want you to keep in mind that God never tells us to do anything unless it's gonna be something that's going to be good for us. And actually, I teach over and over that when you forgive someone who's hurt you, you're really not doing them a favor, you're doing yourself a favor. Because when we harbor unforgiveness toward someone, it eats away at us. It's like, offense is like havin' a little bit of pepper in your salt. It's like, it's just kind of there nipping away at you. And you go through life and you can smile at the person and make all the niceties but down deep inside there's something that's really bugging you. And the first thing I want you to realize is that you're always going to have opportunity to be offended, maybe every day.
One time I challenged people to take a week and count how many opportunities they had to be offended. And one girl came back and said 40 and that's probably just a normal number. You can get offended in traffic, you can get offended in the grocery store, you can get offended at work, you can get offended in the family. Anytime we're gonna be dealing with people that are different than we are and people who make mistakes, the same as we make mistakes, there's going to be an opportunity for offense. But this is an opportunity that we don't want to take advantage of. Matter fact, the Bible says, "Don't take offense," and I love that. Satan's gonna offer it to us and he's gonna offer it to us often. But just because somebody offers you poison, that doesn't mean that you have to take it.
So, offense if you study the word in the original Greek, it comes from a Greek word pronounced skandalon. And this is actually what it says the definition is, "It's the name," skandalon translated offense, "Is the name of the part of the trap on which the bait hung that lured the animal into the trap". So, it would be like the cheese on the mousetrap. You're not gonna catch a mouse in a trap, if there's nothing on that trap to lure them in. And Satan wants to trap us, he wants to trap us in misery, and he wants to get us trapped in a place where we're out of the will of God, but either aren't aware of it or we feel like we can't do anything about it. And so offense would be like the cheese on the mousetrap, it's what Satan uses, offense to draw us into deeper problems. And offense, if it's not dealt with promptly, can turn into some very bad things: bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, even hatred.
We're not only supposed to forgive, we're supposed to forgive frequently and quickly, there are scriptures that say both. And the quicker we forgive, the easier it is to do it. One of the ways to be able to forgive, is to believe the best of people, or to maybe try to understand where they're coming from. You know, there's always two sides to every story. And when somebody does something that hurts us, we understand what they did to us, but we don't know their heart, we don't know what's going on in their heart. Many times, we don't know how they were raised in their childhood. And so, they may have hurts and things going on in the inside of them that's causing them to do the things that they did or behave the way they behave.
You know, you may go to the store and get a grouchy clerk, and that can be offensive to you, because you're spending your money there, you would expect them to be nice to you. But I don't know, maybe they've had a loved one die recently and they're doin' all they can do to stand there and run the cash register. It's good if we try to believe the best of people and instead of getting so bothered about the way they're treating us, maybe consider what they're doing to themselves. I love what Jesus said on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". Isn't that interesting? Forgive them because they don't know what they're doing.
You know, the Bible says, "If Satan would have realized what he was doing, he would have never had the Son of God crucified". He didn't really realize what he was doing. He thought he was hurting Jesus, but actually he was setting the world free. Same thing, a lot of times when people do something to us, they don't know what they're doin'. Maybe they're not trying to hurt us, that's not the object of what they're trying to do, we just got in their way on a day when things were difficult for them.
Now, I know there's all different kinds of things that different ones of you have gone through and I'm sure some of you have been hurt very deeply. I was sexually abused by my father, and my mother knew about it and didn't know how to help me. She was too weak in her personality to confront my dad and know how to help me, so she ignored the situation, and it brought some very deep hurts into my life. I married the first young man that came along, he ran around with other women, that was another five years of agony. So, I know what it's like to be hurt. And I know that it can be challenging to forgive people that have hurt you. But the first thing if we're ever going to forgive, we have to believe it's possible. We can't keep talking about how hard it is, because even though God calls us to do hard things, he always gives us enough grace to do what he has asked us to do.
So, if there are any of you watching today and you think, "Well, I just can't forgive, it's just too much, it's not fair, it's not right". Well, Jesus taking our sin wasn't fair and it wasn't right. Him forgiving us for our sins against him was not fair, but he did it. He did it anyway. And we need to follow his example and we need to do it anyway. I'm very concerned about all the people in the world today that are angry. We live in such an angry world and boy: I just feel like I need to just keep preaching on this in different ways until people get it.
I told somebody yesterday, I was with somebody in the car, and we were talkin' about just how easily people get upset. And I mean, you know what it's like driving in traffic, I mean, you make one teeny, tiny, little mistake and the person in the other car's rantin' and ravin', and carryin' on like you're the worst person that ever lived. And it's like people don't give you any room today, to make mistakes. They're forgetting that they make mistakes all the time that they want mercy for, but yet they don't want to give mercy when they need to give mercy. And we were talking about something that had happened that had upset someone. And you know, of course, I've lived for quite a while now, and so I've gone through all those phases of getting upset and getting my feelings hurt, and I've learned, actually, I really have learned this, and learning takes a long time.
So, when somebody tells you, "I've learned this," it's worth listening to them because maybe, if you do, you can save yourself a lot of years of agony. And I've learned that being upset about something you cannot do anything about, is totally, completely useless. I've also learned that trying to make other people be what you want them to be, and getting angry with them if they won't, is also useless because only God can change people. And people are only going to change if they want to change, not because you want them to change, but because they wanna change. And I can promise you today, that if you will try giving people more mercy, and a lot less harsh judgment, your life is going to be very much better. You're going to be a much happier person.
So, Satan uses offenses, sometimes even little thing, sometimes we get a bunch of little things stored up on the inside of us and because we haven't let them go, all these little things pile up and they become big things. And Satan uses offenses as bait to lure us into a lifetime of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, and even hatred. But God calls us to love one another, and to let our love be red-hot, on fire, intense, abounding, always growing. Because love, if we walk in love, that's the one thing that will prevent the devil from being able to control us, or to derail, or ruin, or destroy the wonderful destiny that God has planned for us. God has an amazingly good plan for your life, but you can ruin it by holding unforgiveness towards someone.
1 Peter 5:8 says, "The devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking whom he may devour". But I just wanna tell you today, it doesn't have to be you. Just because he's roaming around looking for whom he can devour, you don't have to take his bait and let it be you. I would really love it if everybody watching today would make a decision, "I'm gonna really be careful from now on about getting angry and staying angry". Sometimes we get angry so fast, it's like somebody does something, "I'm angry". Well, the Bible doesn't say that we're to never get angry, it says, "When you're angry, don't sin". "When you're angry, don't let the sun go down on your anger".
So, God understands that, he understands our emotions, he understands our feelings, he gives us a space of time to work through it. And one of the quickest ways to work through being angry is to understand that we all do things that hurt other people. And boy, if we don't learn how to forgive one another, we're never gonna be able to get along with anybody. If you continue, in the vines definition it also says that, "Offense is a hindrance or a stumbling block". What does that mean? It means that it hinders your walk with God, and it becomes a point of stumbling. You can be walking along making progress in your walk with God, and then Satan launches an attack of offense or bitterness or unforgiveness against you. And if you don't resist it, and quickly move beyond it, it will become a stumbling block in your walk with God, and you can actually stop growing in your relationship with him because of it.
When we allow the spirit of offense to come in, it becomes a hindrance and a stumbling block in our walk, and our relationship with God. And some of you, oh, even maybe little things like you say, "I don't feel like I've felt God's presence in a long time," or "I don't feel like God's answering my prayers". Well, you know there's scripture, that says that, "God can't answer our prayers until we forgive the people that we're holding things against," it's very, very plain in the Bible. Matter fact, it says: "If you don't forgive others their trespasses against you neither will your father in heaven forgive yours". I don't think that we take some of these things seriously enough. We just keep going over and over how we feel about what somebody did to us.
And you know, I'm just wondering while I'm teaching this message today, "How many people watching right now, if you're really honest with yourself, you are angry at somebody about something"? And as long as you use the excuse that it's too hard, you'll never be able to forgive. Let me just give you a couple hints, the way to forgive people is God's way. And he says, "Pray for your enemies". So, that's the very first thing that you do, is you pray. And yes, you pray for them to be blessed, and you think, "Well, I don't want my enemies to be blessed". Well, the first thing God will bless people with is truth. It's not like if you pray for your enemies to be blessed, they're gonna get a new house and a new car, that's not the kind of thing God's talking about. Maybe if you pray for them instead of judging them and criticizing, them God can open their eyes, and they can change.
And the Bible says to, "Bless your enemies and do not curse them". And bless in this context means to speak well of, and curse means to speak evil of. So, when somebody has hurt us, we want to be careful how we talk to other people about them. Mark chapter 4 verse 17, of course, Mark chapter 4 is a chapter in the Bible that talks about how the sower sows the seed into different kinds of ground, and how that seed either does or does not take root and grow. And the seed is the Word of God, the sower is the Holy Spirit, and our heart is the ground that the word is sown in to. So, we wanna get honest with ourselves and decide, "What kind of heart do I have"? So, he's talking about a group of people here, verse 17, "They have no real root in themselves". In other words, they have no depth.
You know, there's a lot of shallow Christians, they go through the motions, they go to church, they put a little money in the offering plate, they might even do a little "Good works" every now and then. But the truth of the matter is, is they're a little bit shallow. And one of the things that happens when a Christian is shallow, is they're good until there's a problem, and then they don't know how to continue to behave in a Christian manner, when things aren't easy anymore. "They have no real root in themselves, and so they endure for a little while: but when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word".
See, when we're studying the word, Satan's gonna come against us, he's gonna find a way to come against us. And one of the ways that he does come against us and try to distract us and cause us to lose our focus, is by getting us upset about something or somebody. "When trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, they immediately are offended". Wow. "(become displeased, indignant, resentful) and they stumble and they fall away".
Now, the Webster's 1828 dictionary, defines offense in some other words that we'll be real familiar with: "To displease". Well, how long can you be around somebody and them not displease you in some way? Usually not very long. Somebody was telling me just the other day about a family they know, that every time there's any kind of a little bit of a rift in the family, they all just wanna hash it over and talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, and keep talking about it, and going over, and over, and over it. And he said, "I don't know how people can live like that"? He said, "My family was together on Christmas and some little thing happened toward the end of the day, and we just talked about it for a few minutes got over it and everybody went home and happy".
Well, that's what we can do, if we're determined to do things God's way. "To displease, to make angry, to a front," it expresses a little bit less than anger, without modifying the word. It's nearly synonymous with displease. We are offended by rudeness, incivility, harsh language. Children offend their parents by disobedience, and parents offend their children by unreasonable austerity or restraint, sternness or restrictions. Actually, many things offend us, and we are offended far too easily and far too often. But love is not touchy. 1 Corinthians 13 says, "Love," come on, we're supposed to be lovers. God is love: we have his spirit in us. "Love is not touchy or easily offended". One of my confessions over my life is, "I am impossible to offend".
Now, I used to be a very touchy person and you know, a lot of times insecure people are like that. They give you the job of making them feel good about themselves all the time, and nobody can live under the strain of that for too long. I was like that in the beginning years of my marriage to Dave. I always wanted him to make me feel good about myself, but we have to get that from God. We need to stop trying to get from people what we can only get from God. "Love is not easily offended, it is not touchy". We should determine, be very determined that we are not gonna live with offense in our heart, and that we're gonna do everything we can to keep it out. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life". Keep your heart right before God.
Philippians 1:9 and 10, Paul prayed this for the Philippian church, "And this I pray, that your love might bound yet more and more". I love that. We never love enough, we always keep growing in love. "And I pray that you might approve the things that are excellent, and that you might be sincere and without offense until the day of Jesus Christ". My goodness, Paul prayed for them that they would make it all the way until Jesus came back to get 'em without letting offense get in their heart. You know being angry at people is hard work, I just don't have the energy for it anymore. I'd much rather release a person to God and let him do what he needs to do, and let God work with me to change me.
Psalm 119:165 says, "Great peace have they who love your law: nothing shall offend them or make them stumble". Isn't it amazing? It's really, it's just downright amazing how much the Bible says about not being offended. And I don't think that there's anybody watching right now, that doesn't have an opportunity to be offended on a regular basis. But remember, you don't have to take offense just because the devil offers it, you don't have to take it. There's six kinds of offense and we're gonna be talking about offense, for the two days after this one. Taking offense, giving offense, being offended by the truth, being offended at God, offending the Holy Spirit, and offending yourself by sinning against your own conscience. But you know, the Bible says that, "There will be no offense in heaven".
Offense builds a stronghold of cold love and that's exactly what Satan wants. Matter fact, one of the signs of the end times, which we all say we believe we're living in the last days, and I think every Christian that's ever lived always thinks they're living in the last days. Paul thought Jesus was coming back very soon. And I think we should all live as if we believe he's coming back this evening or before tomorrow. You know, let's be ready when Jesus comes back to get us, let's don't, "Oh goodness, now, I need to try to get ready".
I wanna live ready and one of the ways I do that is by keeping offense and bitterness and resentment out of my heart. And I had to learn how to do this. I had to stop saying, "It was too hard". I had to stop saying, "I couldn't". I had to stop saying, "It's not fair, you don't realize what they did to me". God finally gave me the grace to forgive my mom and my dad completely, and to take care of them in their old age until they went home to be with him. And as a result of God giving me the grace to show my father love, he ended up giving his heart to the Lord and I know that he's in heaven. Hating people, being angry at them, continuing to bring up to them their offenses, never does you or anybody else any good.
Matthew 24 says that in the last days, "Many will be offended". I'm offering you today, a book called, "Do Yourself a Favor... Forgive", that I wrote. And I'm just gonna tell you, I think it's an outstanding book and I think it's a book that people could read once a year and it would not be a waste of their time. "Do Yourself a Favor... Forgive" for your gift to the ministry of any amount. We use great wisdom with your money, and we're using it to help a lot of people all over the world. And so, please order your copy of this book today. Thank you for being with us today. We love you, we care about you and remember, don't be offended.