Offense leads to imprisoned people and hatred…and it must end!
Offense immediately divides you from the ones you are supposed to be serving.
Listen to my number one most requested message, Becoming Unoffendable here: http://media.johnburton.net/3194395
Offense has very serious eternal implications attached to it. In 1000 years everyone of us will be somewhere…based on what we do right now…and if we are offended, we are at great risk of falling away.
Also, another key message, The Tone of the Groan is a MUST hear! Listen to it here: http://media.johnburton.net/2232968
Check out this testimony I received today:
I listened to your cd “The tone of the Groan” and all I can say is OMG!!!! I have NEVER heard a sermon preached so powerfully especially about the groan! Nobody talks about that!!! You so have to come here and preach that!!!! The CD rocked me! Blessed me!!! It was soooooooooooo good!!!!!
After hearing your CD – well first I was mad because I stopped the groan, I stopped the Holy Spirit. Then I repented for being embarrassed, for grieving the Holy Spirit and for denying the preciousness and power of the groan. And now I am thrilled!!!! I was born to groan!!!!!!!! I’m so happy I heard your CD – you have no idea!!!!! Oh I wish you were my Pastor!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!! What a blessing you are!!!! I’m so glad God crossed our paths!!! You have no idea!!!!!
Here’s my personal, raw notes from Becoming Unoffendable if you’d like to follow along!
I. The greater the mission, the greater the opportunity for offense.
a. PS 119:165- Great peace have they which love your law: and nothing shall offend them.
b. The call to the Christian life is a call to challenge and great cost.
i. As the end draws nearer, we will have to become more broken and surrendered.
c. Jesus warns that, as we near the end of the age, a majority of people will be offended to such a degree that they fall away from the faith.
i. “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another . . . and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:10-12 KJV)
ii. Francis Frangipane- Paul told Timothy to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (see 2 Tim 4:2). He didn't say, “exhort, exhort, exhort,” but exhortation is what we receive in most churches. Certainly, we need to be encouraged, but there are also times, beloved, when we need to be reproved and rebuked. Today, there are preachers who are afraid to preach truth for fear people will react and leave the church. The end result is a church of easily offended people who cannot grow beyond their inability to accept correction.
People don't change by exhortation alone. There are areas in all of us that need to be confronted and disciplined. The pastor who refuses to discipline and correct those in sin is in disobedience to God. He is unable to lead people into any truly transforming changes in their lives; they will not “endure to the end” if they cannot be corrected (see Matt 24).
iii. If your emotional health is dependant on you being right and others acknowledging that, you will not last. You will not endure. You are at great risk of falling away!!! Please understand this!!
1. It’s so important that we endure! We cannot be offended! We cannot abdicate our responsibilities and leave our missions due to offense!
2. As the mission intensifies, you will have every opportunity to be offended.
a. You may not be acknowledged the way you think you should be.
b. You may feel rejected as you are challenged to grow beyond where you currently are.
c. The call to participate at a high level may offend.
d. You may have expectations go unmet.
e. And on and on.
d. Ezekiel 36:26-28 (NKJV) 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 “Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
i. Offense leads to division. We see that everywhere—between people, in the church, small groups, etc.
ii. However, this scripture reveals to us that there aren’t to be multiple, divided groups—there are only two distinctions: God and his people. We shall be God’s people and he will be our God.
1. This means we are all called to unify, to be agreed and to be the body
2. For this to happen, we must go low, serve others and not ourselves
iii. God desires to put a new heart and a new spirit in us.
1. He desires no division among his people.
2. To make God's dream come true, many things must happen in us.
a. One of those things is that we must allow God to remove our hard heart and make it impossible for us to ever be offended.
i. Why is this important?
b. Proverbs 18:19-21 (NKJV) 19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle. 20 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
3. Wow… offense is a death sentence! It imprisons us! It consumes us, we speak it out, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Jesus understood the power of offence, and he went out of his way to ensure others weren’t ensnared by the prison of offense.
- Matthew 17:24-27 (NKJV) 24 When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” 26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
- It's not a matter of right vs. wrong, but rather on serving.
- 1 Corinthians 10:32-33 (NKJV) 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
- Look at the extent that we are called to go to ensure we do not offend others!
- 2 Corinthians 6:2-10 (NKJV) 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
- This tracks back all the way to the Garden of Eden.
- Offended: to feel vexation or resentment usually by violation of what is proper
- There are two trees by which we can live.
- The tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- The tree of life.
- The tree of knowledge of good and evil just pumps out the fruit of offense.
- I'm right, you're wrong
- You hurt me
- You made a bad decision
- You don't care about me
- The reason ‘Christians’ so often look defeated, angry, bitter, hopeless and desperate is because they looked to these rules and regulations as their bridge to God and they have left them dusty and dry.
- The difference between Christians and the World is not the ability to keep rules or even the different believes but it is that we have found life and they have not yet found life.
- Formulas will never set us free. We hear people say all the time that ‘I’m a good person’.
- The reality is that Christians that live in the TKGE have the exact same attitude!
- In this world of blinded eyes, dull ears and hardened hearts, the life of God isn’t imparted according to formulas, but rather by dynamic, life-giving relationships.
- A person living in the tree of life loves and serves in the spirit of Truth (Jesus) while those living in the tree of knowledge of good and evil are fueled by facts.
- Genesis 3:1-7 (NKJV) 1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
- Interestingly, Satan appealed to Eve's desire for godliness… but, while it resulted in knowledge it was void of life. A form of godliness but void of power.
- Their recognition of their own nakedness was correct, but it was different than the revelation that God wanted for them.
- He wanted them to be childlike, but now they didn't have that capacity
- Kids are dependant, innocent, needy, vulnerable, fragile.
- Those that leave that become self-sufficient (fig leaves), not innocent (no payment for their sin), protective, defensive, proud, puffed up.
- When they ate of the tree, they became servants to it.
- Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV) 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
- Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV) 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it': “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”
18. The tree of life that grew out of the same ground that God created Adam from was there to feed them… now, the tables were turned… they were now assigned to serve the ground, to till it. Their knowledge of good and evil resulted in slavery.
xix. Many live in the TKGE their entire lives. Many Christians.
xx. John 5:39- “You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
xxi. Remember, we should seek Truth ahead of facts!
xxii. If we live in the TKGE we tend to always blame! Parents, pastors, politicians, our boss, the way we were raised, etc.
xxiii. The TKGE always makes us point at somebody and say “I can’t, because they didn’t”, but the TOL says “I can, no matter what they do.”
xxiv. Jesus said the truth must be written on our hearts, not just our brains!
1. John 8:30-36 (NKJV) 30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him. 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free'?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
2. Proverbs 3:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, 4 And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.
a. Facts have the power to divide, but truth delivered in love, with mercy, as they are written on your own heart, will result in favor with man! It's a powerful contrast!
b. We cannot elevate our opinions above the opinions of others.
c. Remember God's dream is for there to only be two involved parties- God and his people. We are knit together in love!
Philippians 2:1-4 (NIV)
2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Like-mindedness requires submission!
. Whenever two disagree, the result must be agreement!
i. The tree of knowledge of good and evil just grows and grows as we attempt to figure out right vs. wrong!
ii. We must learn to die to our opinions!
This tree is absolutely deadly.
Matthew 24:9-13 (KJV)
24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
That verse reveals three things that will happen if we allow ourselves to become offended:
. Betrayal, hatred and cold love.
i. This is the enemy at work to divide and conquer!
ii. We must see this!
iii. Gossip is actually revenge and hatred!
iv. For someone who is offended, betrayal, hatred and cold love all go hand in hand.
v. The last verse told us to endure. If we are to endure we have no choice but to deal with every issue that has an opportunity to cause us offense.
vi. We don't have the option to be offended, to withdraw.
vii. Between now and the time we die we will have huge opportunities to be offended.
viii. It will imprison us!
Proverbs 18:19 (NKJV)
18:19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
vii. We have seen this happen- people that are offended become defensive, lose their freedom, lose their love, retreat, leave churches, etc. The enemy wins day after day as he places the spirit of offense in people's hearts.
viii. We can't underestimate the power of the enemy on this one.
9. As Christians who are fighting against the enemy, we must never embrace the enemy!
. If we do, surrender the tree of life for the tree of knowledge of good and evil- and die.
a. We'll find ourselves unable to connect with God.
b. We won't be able to forgive.
c. We'll do everything we can to prove our point.
d. Gossip will be what makes us feel good about ourselves!
Jude 1:16 (NIV)
1:16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
j. God hates gossip, complaining.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)
6:16 There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
xi. The tree of life is very different!
0. When people negatively affect our lives, we heap blessings upon them!
a. We smile a lot!
b. We encourage them!
c. We allow ourselves to be refined and even corrected through them!
d. Joan Harmon- never stopped smiling!
e. Others refuse to smile until they finally have nothing to complain about.
Philippians 2:14-16 (NKJV)
2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
12. To live in the tree of knowledge of good and evil results in complaining, which God says is a sin.
13. However, if we hold fast to the word of life there is rejoicing!
n. Repentance is wonderful as it causes us to immediately start feeding off of the tree of life.
. Francis Frangipane- An offense can strike at our virtues or sins, our values or our pride. It can penetrate and wound any dimension of the soul, both good and evil. I once brought a series of messages about gossip. Most people saw their sin and repented, but a core group of gossips were greatly offended and ultimately left the church. When the Holy Spirit exposes sin in someone's soul, if they refuse God's transforming grace, they often become offended at the person who brought the teaching. We need to become a people who say, “Lord, show us what needs to change in me.” I'm talking about growing up. A wise man will receive a rebuke and he will prosper. But a fool despises rebuke. (see Prov 17:10)
Opportunities for Offense
. When we're not recognized for our good works and ministry.
Philippians 2:3 (NIV)
2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
i. I understand the wonder associated with being fulfilled in ministry, but we must be very careful!
ii. Ministry literally means- to serve.
iii. It's not a stepping stone to greater ministry, to recognition, to public accolades.
0. There are people who are on public platforms simply to stroke their own ego when in reality God is calling them to serve behind the scenes.
1. Paul often starts his letters with, Paul a servant of God.
Hebrews 13:17 (NKJV)
13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
d. False expectations
. This is when we expect people to fulfill our lives rather than God.
0. We look to man to validate us, encourage us, love us and speak well of us.
1. When this doesn't happen, when we look to people to do what they really aren't designed to do, our false expectations lead to offense.
2. People will always fall short!
3. People can't meet our every need!
4. They won't meet needs that maybe we think they should!
5. This is why marriages can be so rough.
6. This is why church relationships can be difficult.
7. We want people to jump through our hoops! Stop it!!
8. When God becomes 100% of our provider and rewarder, what people do really doesn't matter that much anymore.
9. Francis Frangipane-
the very power of our expectations can choke out the sweetness
>of a personal relationship. Suppose that, instead of burdening people
>with our expectations, we simply learned to appreciate them for
>themselves – no strings attached. The fact is, our loved ones are not
>under any obligation to fulfill our expectations. If they do fulfill
>them, it is their free choice, not our demands, that makes for a loving relationship.
5. Train yourself- don't ever tip a waitress based on service, but rather out of love.
6. Jesus said the greatest among us would be the servant of all.
. We serve the waitress, those we hire to fix our plumbing, people under us at work, our spouse, and on and on.
7. God's offense
. Before God will elevate someone, he will often give them an opportunity to be offended.
0. Our pride and false expectations must die.
1. The Holy Spirit moves most freely when we lose our dignity!
2. God will rebuke and challenge and put people in unfair situations to see how they will respond.
3. Dreams must die, we must lower ourselves.
Matthew 15:25-28 (NIV)
15:25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
8. He called her a dog! He was testing her pride and she responded in humility.
2 Kings 5:1-12 (NIV)
5:1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. 2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!” 8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
ix. God will give us opportunity after opportunity to become offended.
0. We must stop saying, “I thought”.
1. Naaman's own expectations did him in!
2. Lean not on our own understanding.
3. Live in the tree of live.
4. Bless those who curse you.
5. Love and serve and talk well about your enemies.
6. Turn the other cheek and allow someone to hurt you again.
7. Become a servant to all.