Steven Furtick — The Prison of Offense
Have you noticed that we live in an age of perpetual offense? I mean, everybody is offended about everything all the time. And the reason it's so hard for you to stay happy is because it's so easy for you to get offended.
Let me show you what the devil wants to do in your relationship, because God said that the two shall become one. This is exactly what the enemy wants. So every battle you're going to fight, every argument about the dishes, really it's... The enemy's agenda is destruction and so his strategy is division.
And Jesus is giving us, really, in Matthew 5 kind of a playbook of how the enemy wants to work in your relationship. Now, he won't make an announcement, "Hey, I'm coming to kill and steal and destroy..." But if the enemy can just — What he'll do, he'll just use the littlest offense. Here's a garden. This represents the love of a relationship and all the potential of a relationship. And this, of course, represents the offenses that are going to come into your relationship.
Now, you don't have to be married to get a whole lot out of what I'm saying right now. This will apply to anybody in your life who is important to you and show you exactly what the enemy will try to do. Like, for instance, I don't know if Stephanie's a good cook or not. Oh, yeah. Yeah, good.
And I was talking to my mom this morning. You know, my mom lives here in Charlotte and she reminded me of this story. This is hilarious. It just shows how offenses can come. Because the question isn't are offenses going to come into your relationship. That's not the question. They're going to come. They're going to come. The question is what are you going to do with 'em. That's what determines whether or not you keep a strong relationship with God, with others, with yourself.
So my mom was telling me they were at my father's mom's house, so my grandmother, my dad's mom's house for Thanksgiving and she made some stuffing. My grandmother made some stuffing. And the way I understood the story, my dad was sitting there eating his mom's stuffing. And while he's eating the stuffing, he says, trying to give a compliment to his mom, he's like, "Mmmm. Mom, nobody makes stuffing like you. I mean, other people try to make stuffing but nobody can make it like you."
And my mom is thinking, while he's saying, "Nobody makes stuffing like you," my mom is thinking, "And nobody is going to make stuffing for you except your mom, so you better invite your mom to be your cook if nobody makes stuffing like her." And my mom said, "I didn't make that man stuffing on Thanksgiving for the next six years." And I said, "Can I tell the church that story? It's a good illustration." She said, "Yes, as long as you clarify that I really do make better stuffing than your grandmother."
Now, I've got you holding that because he says this stuff. He says these unintentional things, 'cause men are stupid and we just say stuff and we don't realize what we're saying, and we just say stuff. And maybe Dan hasn't done it yet. To me, he looks like an intelligent man. But he's going to say something and he, it will be unintentional. In his mind, he's just saying it. He's just saying something. He just says stuff. Or sometimes, it's not what they say, it's what they don't do. It's an unmet expectation.
That is the breeding ground of offenses in relationships, unmet expectations. And let me tell you the breeding ground of unmet expectations, unexpressed expectations. So you've got to learn how to talk to people. Let's say growing up in Stephanie's house, birthdays were a big deal. But maybe at Dan's house, they didn't make a big deal about birthdays 'cause hey, what did you do? You didn't do anything on your birthday. You were just born.
So maybe on birthdays at Dan's house nobody celebrates the fact that you just came out into the world like it was some great achievement. But Stephanie wakes up and her mom used to make her pancakes on her birthday and her dad had a special song that he would sing. I don't know. I'm making this stuff up. I never met Stephanie and Dan before. I was making a scenario. And so, Dan wakes up on the birthday and he's going to take her out to P.F.
Chang's that night 'cause that's her favorite place she said, but now it's morning time and it's like seven and there's no pancakes and there's no special song and there's no thing, and so now all of a sudden, it's the first birthday they spend as a married couple and he wakes up and gives her a little kiss and goes to work. And leaves her with an offense. And you're like, "Well, that's stupid. She shouldn't get so offended over that." Well, you get offended over some stuff, too, some little things, and you hold it...
And they won't just be you offending her. Let's say maybe, let's say you're working really hard... This used to happen in me and Holly's marriage. This is an example I did not ask for permission to share. When I discovered that her recreational preference was shopping, and She said, "Me, too". So you come home on Saturday, Holly would come home on Saturday and she would be energized and she would have bags all over her arms. But to me, those bags didn't look like shopping bags. Those bags looked like grenades to be launched into our financial picture.
Here I am, trying to work. She's walking in with all these bags, looking... And then she has the nerve to say, "Don't worry 'cause I got it on... Sale!" And this is what the devil wants. Alright? Now, Dan is trying to fall asleep on Saturday night... And again, I'm just making this up. But she handed you this offense. She wasn't trying to offend you. She was just shopping. It was just her thing. But Dan is working and "doesn't she see how hard I'm working" and "how does she expect us to get ahead financially" and "like the last thing she needs is another pair of shoes".
And the enemy's like, "Yeah, yeah. That's good, Dan. That's good. She doesn't care about you. She doesn't respect you. She doesn't appreciate all that you're doing to provide for her. She's working against you." It's just a little offense. Meanwhile, Stephanie is still stuck on her birthday. It was four months ago. She's still mad about the pancakes. Come here, Stephanie. And she's over here and she's still nursing that, that thing about the birthday, and see it's... Every time she thinks about it, it gets a little deeper.
And she'll drive it down in there with every thought and reliving it and thinking about what he said and what she did and what they didn't say. "He didn't pay attention to me, don't appreciate me," and just drives it down deeper. And marriage is going to give you, because it's the most intimate relationship; and the more intimate the relationship, the more infinite the potential for offense.
And so you're going to have like a million offenses, little offenses; and if you don't learn how to deal with them, because sometimes the thing that you liked about her when you were dating will drive you crazy now that you have to wake up with it every day. No offense to Stephanie. I'm sure she's wonderful. You're like, "Why would you say that about her?" It's true about everybody. Here's how the country preacher says it. He said, "Before marriage, opposites attract. After marriage, opposites attack. Amen." That's how the country preacher says it.
And so I know it's kind of heavy. That's how offenses are. But it's not all at once. It's one at a time. So like, let's say that before marriage you liked her because she is mysterious and quiet and that draws you to her. But then, in marriage, it can go this way, to where it was really attractive that she was quiet and mysterious when you were dating her, but now, in marriage, she won't ever talk. And it's like, "No, but yeah, but no." But just for example. And it's like, "Why won't you tell me what's on your mind?" But that's why you liked her.
And before you married him, he was the life of the party and he walked in and he just talked and lit up the room. And now, why won't he ever shut up? Dan will not shut up. Shut up, Dan. And so what actually was part of building the foundation of the relationship, now it's offense. And it happens a million different ways and the enemy will give you all kinds of opportunities. And you don't realize what's happening because it's just one little conversation after another, you know. It's just dressing on Thanksgiving.
Ain't no big thing. It's just me trying to tell Holly how to drive and her saying, "Well then, why don't you drive if you're such a good driver." And we have a lot of dysfunction in our relationship over what happens in the car because I can't find my way places and she can't drive. So she has a great sense of direction but horrible driving skills. I'm a great driver with no sense of direction.
So the other night, we're driving, coming from a movie as a matter of fact. Not the Christian football movie. But we were coming back and she almost got us killed. And I was mad because, to me, she wasn't paying attention. And we talked about that later and she was like, "Well, you know, if you want to be in control of how the car works, there's a different seat you can sit in." Shut up. Raca. Raca. "That's the biggest problem you have?" No, it's not the biggest problem we have, it's just the one I'm going to tell you about. It's none of your business what problems we have.
But see, offense by offense... If we don't learn what to do about this, the enemy would love just one conversation after another. You don't make a decision to walk away from a relationship that you love. You don't see them becoming your enemy in Matthew 5:25. It's just one unacknowledged effort after another. And you start thinking, "Well, I'm the only one who ever takes out the trash around here. Well, I guess I'll do it again, like always. No, it's good. I've got it. I've got it. It's not a problem." "I would love to get up with the kid again in the middle of the night. No, it's fine. You've got to work."
And now, what started as just a small offense... Now, what God joined together is separated because of offense. And now the crazy thing is, Jesus said if you let it get to this point, if you live your relational life on the basis of "well, I'm not apologizing first; I apologized first the last time," if you don't learn how to deal with these things, you find yourself imprisoned. It's not them that you imprison. It's you.
"Hey, Dan. Why don't we talk anymore? Where did the love go? Dan, we haven't been to P.F. Chang's in three years, Dan." You built offense.
The enemy's agenda is destruction, his strategy is division, and his tactic is offense. Thankfully, God has given us another way to deal with offense. If only we could find an example of somebody who had every right to be offended, of somebody who had every right to hold it against us, of somebody who had every right to stand at a distance, but opened His arms and said, "This is the way of relationships."