“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.'” Romans 15:1-3
Do you know that we should be growing in our ability to be unoffendable if we are growing in Christ? I am not telling you that it is an easy thing. No, its an absolute impossible thing to accomplish in our own strength. It is only through the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit that it is possible at all, and yet, it is that to which we have been called.
To be offended by definition is to be displeased and agitated because of the actions of another. Although offense seems to be worn as a badge of entitlement these days, I wonder if we have ever really stopped to take a deep look at the implications of what it really means to carry offenses within ourselves. I would wager that for most of us, we have not thought it through unless we have been forced to deal with it because that is really how we learn principles that are not part of our carnal nature. How do we learn? – typically its through stumbling blocks thrown in our path. So how do we grow in being unoffendable? – through being offended.
Jesus was so masterful at teaching His disciples through their experiences. In Matthew 15 we find two stories that both have sermon illustrations on their own, but truly when put together, show two contrasting conditions of the heart. In the beginning of the chapter, the Pharisees and scribes had questioned Jesus about His disciples not holding to the established traditions. Instead of a diplomatic plea to understand one another, Jesus answers them by exposing the areas of their own hearts that do not line up with the very law that they believed they were defending. Upon watching this, the Lord’s disciples come to Jesus and say, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”
Since Jesus knew what was in the heart of a person, the answer was yes, but always the teacher, Jesus then shows His disciples something else. As they moved into the region of Tyre and Sidon, they are met with a cry from a non-Jewish woman. She begs Jesus to heal her demon possessed daughter. The disciples ask Jesus to send her away. But Jesus turns toward her and answers her request with what looks like rejection. He says to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” But in her desperation, she knows her answer stands before her and she is not going to give up. She responds with, “Lord, help me.” Again Jesus verbally rejects her cry for help and this time He says something that should completely offend this woman who is looking for compassion. He says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” His implication is that she is not worthy of a miracle and compares her to a dog! What is her response?
Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” In other words, I will take whatever you will give me. I know that you are my hope. Of course, then Jesus replies, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” Scripture says that immediately her daughter was healed.
In a heart full of faith, there is no place for offenses – why? Because we are called to allow the Holy Spirit to birth in us in message of the Kingdom and that message includes love, humility, and lowliness of heart. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation in a perverse and crooked generation. And in our offenses, we are called to turn the other cheek, to pray for the one doing the wounding, and to overcome evil with good. This is called giving the good testimony. Jesus also tells us that offenses are sure to come…stumbling blocks that try to take our very faith…are sure to come. How will we survive and move forward? Only through a mindset that everything that has been allowed in our lives has been filtered through the hands of the Father and our one course of action is complete surrender to the working of the Holy Spirit to cleanse our hearts of any offense, bitterness, and unforgiveness; and to allow Him to do a deep purifying work of anything offensive in us.
The Lord knows to whom He can entrust Himself. It does not matter if you are one who feels disadvantaged and underprivileged or if you are masterfully accomplished – neither station in life is what qualifies or disqualifies you to be the Lord’s true disciple. The Lord is looking at one place and one place only – the heart. You can’t harbor offenses within your heart and be surrendered to the Lord at the same time. There will be a duplicity in you that makes you double minded. That offense that you harbor will continue to grow and eat away at the very place that should belong to Jesus and in turn gives the devil a stronghold to work through in your life. You will find that you will very unwillingly become an opponent to the Gospel instead of an ambassador of the Gospel of peace.
You may say in your inward being, “I can never forgive. You don’t know what they did to me.” But I say to you, you cannot look in the face of Jesus and expect your argument to hold any water. Instead, look into the eyes of the one that took your sin into Himself as He hung beaten, naked, and humiliated upon a brutal cross and ask Him to do the kind of work in your heart that makes it unoffendable. An unoffendable heart is too full of love and compassion to harbor offenses toward another. An unoffendable heart knows that mankind falls short and instead of seeking self-preservation, it seeks to honor God alone through denial of self. An unoffendable heart is one that is becoming like Jesus and in doing so has a deep intimate walk with the Lord. An unoffendable heart is one that Jesus points to and says, “Go, your prayers have been answered.”