Steven Furtick - Is The Devil Messing Up My Relationships?
The reason it's so hard for you to stay happy is because it's so easy for you to get offended. If you want to make it easier to stay happy, make it harder for you to get offended. So I'm working on this "becoming unoffendable" project. I want to invite you in on it, because Jesus says that this offense, however it started with your brother and sister, if you entertain it, it creates a living hell. It spirals out of control. Things can spin out of control so quickly you don't even know it's happening. The Enemy's agenda in your life is destruction. "The thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy". That's John 10:10, note takers. His agenda is destruction. "Every good and perfect gift comes from above".
God is a giver. The Enemy is a taker. He wants to destroy every good thing God puts in your life. That's his agenda. His strategy is division. Jesus shared with us in Matthew 12:25 that a house divided against itself can't stand. Abraham Lincoln didn't say that; Jesus said it. Jesus said that if the Enemy wants to destroy your house, the first thing he must do to destroy your house is to divide your house. Are there any newly married couples in church today? Why are you clapping for them? They haven't proven anything yet. Is that pity applause? Are you newly married? How new? A year. That counts. Would you come on the stage? Do you mind? I don't want to embarrass you in any way. Is your wife here? She's not here?
You have to sit down. You would have been great too. Anybody here with your wife who's newly married and you guys actually made it to church together today? I'm just kidding. I'm sure she's serving in eKidz. Two years? Yeah, come on, if you don't mind. Let's give them a hand. This is brave. They have no idea what they're getting into. I'm not just going to preach about marriage today, but I figure if I use a marriage illustration I can apply it to every relationship. Stephanie and Dan, good to have you guys. Let me show you what the Devil wants to do in your relationship. God said the two shall become one. This is exactly what the Enemy wants. Every battle you're going to fight, every argument about the dishes…
The Enemy's agenda is destruction. His strategy is division. I don't know if you believe in the Devil or not, but the Enemy is not going to be happy until he sees you like this. What I just showed you… The Bible says marriage is even a picture of Christ and the church. What he wants to do to them he wants to do to this whole church. What he wants to do to them he wants to do to you and your teenager. His agenda is destruction. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. His strategy is division, and here's his tactic. This is the part I want to preach about. His tactic is offense. Satan has an offensive strategy. If the Devil were not subtle, Dan wouldn't stand for his schemes, but the Enemy is very strategic. Jesus is giving us in Matthew, chapter 5, kind of a playbook of how the Enemy wants to work in your relationship.
I know Dan is not going to let him, but he's going to try. He won't make an announcement. "Hey, I'm coming to kill and steal and destroy". Right now you just spent all that money on the flowers and the dresses and all the groomsmen and all that stuff. I know it has been a couple of years, and that's good, because what you see in those first couple of years is that the Enemy will usually start in a small way. If he announced, "I've come to divide", Dan the man wouldn't stand for that. Come on, stick your chest out, Dan. What the Enemy will do is just use the littlest offense. What Jesus is doing in Matthew, chapter 5, is showing us how to deal with the offense so we can keep the Devil on defense. How many want to keep the Devil on defense in your life and in your family? Come on, church!
Last week when I was preaching, I ended talking about you have this plank in your eye and you're so concerned about the little speck in my eye. Meanwhile, you're walking around with your big old plank, just whacking them on the head, causing distraction, division, and all this stuff. It's the contrast between the small things and the big things. There are times that a big offense… There's not a week that goes by that somebody doesn't call me for counsel who's going through a marriage situation, like a divorce or a separation. There's not a week that goes by there won't be another pastor or maybe a situation in the church. I get to talking to them about what happened, and if you can go back far enough you find that every plank is made up of a lot of specks.
To me, that's the heart of Jesus' teaching. I didn't read you the whole passage, because I want to break it down and show you how it happens. He said it could be something as small as a word. The closer the relationship, the greater the opportunity. That goes both ways. The closer the relationship, the greater the opportunity for intimacy. However, the closer the relationship, the greater the opportunity for offense. That's why nobody can make you really mad like somebody you really love. Nobody can hurt you like somebody you've given your heart to. I've asked the question a lot of times of people and really in my own mind… I've seen people who were so loyal to each other and if you would have asked me 10 years ago, "Who is most likely to ever have an enemy relationship"? or "Who's most likely to have a divorce"? or "Who's most likely to not be speaking to each other…"?
Some of those very same people… Just in the last year of my life, even, I've watched some things happen that surprised me. Every time you see it, you ask the question, "How did we get here"? Did you see how big Dan was smiling over Stephanie? They're going to have a great marriage and all of that and it's going to be awesome, but you ask the question, "How could somebody who had that same hope, that same smile, barely stand to be in the room with somebody two kids later"? It happens and there are all kinds of ways it happens. I know there's compatibility and I know it's not always something you can fix. It takes one to forgive, but it takes two to be reconciled. I guess I want you to know that my goal today isn't so much to do an autopsy of anybody's mistakes but just to show you something that happens. It always happens one offense at a time.
Yes, there are betrayals and, yes, there's adultery and, yes, there's abuse. I'm not talking about those big things so much today as I am what Jesus was talking about. He said if you get something in your heart against your brother or sister and then you nurse it and rehearse it long enough, it will literally create a smoldering garbage dump of fire in the very relationship that was once a garden of potential and love. How does this happen? It happens one offense at a time. How did we get here, where we're smiling like everything is okay but deep down in my heart…? We come to church. Nobody sees this stuff when we come to church. Jesus says, "If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar and get it right with the person it's not right with before you sing a song or pray a prayer to try to cover up the fact that your relationships are under attack".
We were singing today in church this beautiful worship song. You should have seen the people singing it. People had their hands lifted. "Mercy is falling, falling"! That's what was coming out of some people's mouths, but if you could see what's going on in their heart… Jesus says it's possible for you to be doing something at an outward level and at an inward level you're full of anger and resentment. "Mercy is falling, falling…except on my husband. He's a jerk"! If you could hear what was happening in the hearts of people… How do we get here? Jesus says it starts small, but one offense at a time… The Devil wants to tear Dan's heart from Stephanie's heart. God takes the two and makes them one. The Enemy takes the one and makes them two. How does he do it? One offense at a time.
God knows I need this message, because I'm not a perfect husband. I give 97 percent of the credit for the happiness that exists in my marriage to my wife; 3 percent is me. I'm pretty proud of that 3 percent. If you put me in the wrong situation I can get offended so quickly, just like on Twitter. There was one woman who went off on me and I still remember what she said three years later. Thousands of people have said nice things to me, but I'm quick to find the offense. We can train ourselves to find the offense and then just overreact. It starts off as "Raca! You fool"! Next thing you know I'm in living hell. Watch how bad it gets. Jesus said it can get so bad if you don't deal with it, if you don't learn how to deal with this, if you don't deal with the little things, the little foxes… He says if you don't settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court… That confused me, because in verse 21 we were talking about your brother or sister. We were talking about somebody you're close to. In verse 25 we're talking about your adversary.
I always assumed these are two different people. What if it's not? What if the same person you called brother and sister in verse 21 is the same person who will be your enemy in verse 25 if you don't learn how to deal with offense? It happens. Have you ever thought about that? He says the person who doesn't deal with the offense… It's interesting how he says it. "If you don't settle matters quickly". That's so powerful. "Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do what you can while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny".
The prison of offense. It all started with "Raca", the small offense. It all started in the parking lot. I was backing out and this guy is honking his horn at me in his pickup truck. This was just a couple of months ago. I took the boys to see the Christian football movie Woodlawn. We're leaving the movie and this guy is hollering at me because his wife wants my parking spot. The problem with his wife wanting my parking spot is she is pulled up so close on my parking spot I can't get out to give it to her, and now that's somehow my fault to this guy in the pickup truck. He offers a course of action to me. "Hey, get out of her way. She's waiting on your spot".
Then I figure out that this is his wife, because I'm putting it all together. I rolled down my window and I said something back to him. It wasn't any profanity or anything like that, but it was a "Raca" type thing that I said, something about his wife's driving skills. You know, something like that, just something insinuating. Then he wants to get out of his truck, and he's not bigger than me, so now I have to get out of my Maxima. I have to, because my boys are watching this and I need to be a good example that if a man gets out of his pickup truck and challenges you, it doesn't matter whether you have an Elevation sticker on your car. You have to handle it. Why are you clapping for me? I'm so bewildered.
I got out and I said, "What are we going to do"? It was just a question. I don't know what happened next. I think to this day… I still don't know, because his tone changed dramatically. I don't think he was intimidated by me. I think he realized who I was, because it was right here in town. I think he put the sticker and the thing together, because all of a sudden he turned real spiritual. He was like, "Well, God bless you, man. We're just all trying to get where we're trying to go". I was like, "Yeah, we are". Around this time, Graham comes out of the car. He's 8. He comes over and stands by me. He said, "You have your boys and I have my wife". I said, "It's cool, man". He got back in the car.
When Graham got in the car I said, "Graham, what were you going to do"? Graham said, "I was going to kick him in the shin if I had to". Elijah, my older son, speaks up and says, "Daddy, a better question is what were you going to do"? I said, "Whatever needed to be done, son. I hadn't thought that far about it". He said, "Well, think about it. Let's say you get in a fight in the parking lot of the movie theater. Not only are the news people going to put you on the news, but we might not even ever see you again. We're in the back of the car and maybe they leave us and then maybe you end up in prison and maybe we don't have a dad. Did you think about that"? I said, "That's right, son. I'm giving you an example of how not to handle a situation".
We went and ate some Mexican food. Here's why I told you that story. When you are in these moments (I'm not talking about with somebody in a parking lot; I'm talking about somebody you love), you're not thinking through the fact that this is going to end up with you and me and an attorney sitting down talking about dividing our assets. That's not how division happens. The Enemy's agenda is destruction. His strategy is division, but his tactic is those little offenses.