Attaining Christ’s heart is not a minor issue. Remember, Jesus warned that, in the last days, “many” would be offended. A wounded spirit is not the same thing as an offended spirit – an offense occurs when we do not process our wounds in a Christlike manner.
Unrealistic or exaggerated expectations inevitably will cause others to fall short and offend us. Some desire their spouse or pastor or friends to meet their every need. However, at the deepest level, our soul was created to find its security in God, not man.
Yes, beware of false leaders, but more deceitful than false prophets or teachers is our own heart when it is offended (Jer 17:9). Are you living with an offended heart? If so, you are gradually slipping away from true Christianity, which is known for its agape love. Thus, dealing with an offended heart is vital in maintaining ongoing spiritual maturity.
For this reason, we need to look again at the things which offend us.
When the Almighty truly becomes our security, our peace flows from our awareness of His love and unlimited capabilities. As people who put their confidence in God, we can live comfortably with imperfect people around us.
Still, 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. What if we approach family and friends with gratitude for what they are doing rather than disappointment for
Or imagine a husband who works a long, tiring job. However, his wife expects that he will work another two hours at home or go shopping with her or listen attentively about her problems. What if, instead, she welcomed him at the door and sincerely thanked him for daily giving himself to support their family? What if she met him, not with demands, but with appreciation? Perhaps she might even massage his shoulders and, because of love, have his favorite meal prepared.
When God Himself Offends Us
The fact is, false expectations can become a source of many deep offenses. However, one of the worst offenses we can suffer is when God Himself purposely offends us. In 2 Kings 5, we read the story of when Naaman, a Syrian general, sought to be healed of leprosy by Elisha, the prophet. When Naaman and his entourage arrived at Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t greet him personally, but instead sent his servant with a word/cure for Naaman. It was a simple assignment for the military leader: wash seven times in the Jordan River. However, the cure offended Naaman. Why didn’t the prophet himself come out? Why this muddy Jordan? Scripture says that “Naaman was furious.”
Catch the phrase, “Behold, I thought . . .” In truth, Naaman was not offended by Elisha, but by his own failed expectations. He probably spent many hours envisioning the moment of healing. He even pictured himself testifying of how the man of God healed him. When it didn’t happen according to his plan, he was offended.
Look at how often Jesus offended people before He healed them. Once, He actually spit on the ground, made mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes, and then told him to walk across town that way! Imagine if you were next in the healing line and saw what the guy before you had to do. Admit it, we each would be looking for another healing ministry,one that is a little less offensive! On another occasion He told a woman who came seeking her daughter’s healing that she was an unclean dog; another time, He stuck His fingers in the ears of a man to heal his deafness. The Lord often offended people before He healed them.If we would learn to humble ourselves in the offense, we would discover that the apparent offense was, in realty, a door that led into the manifest power of God. When Jesus called the Canaanite woman a “dog,” instead of being offended, she said, “Yes, Lord, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs” (Matt 15:27). When Jesus told the man to
walk across town with mud in his eyes, the man didn’t argue or ask for a more dignified healing; he humbled himself and came back seeing. When Elisha told Naaman to dip in the Jordan seven times, the offense wounded him. Yet, when he humbled himself, his leprosy was replaced with the skin of a little child. His skin became as a child, because
his heart, through humility, became as a child.
Maybe you haven’t received your healing or breakthrough yet because to walk the path set before you is beneath your dignity. Maybe you need to get rid of your dignity and go to that Pentecostal or Baptist church you’ve been making fun of, then ask them to pray for you. God wants to heal you, but He also wants to renew and transform you with His grace.
When we study what Jesus taught, it is obvious that He came to make us “unoffendable.” Consider: He says that if someone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other. He said to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. What He’s really doing is showing us how an unoffendable heart of love overcomes all adversity.
We pray, “Lord, I want to change.” To answer our prayer, He sometimes must put us in situations that perfectly offend us. The offense itself awakens our need of grace. Thus, the Lord precipitates change by first offending the area of our soul He desires to transform. He does not expect us to merely survive this adversity, but to become Christlike in it. Ask Joseph in the Old Testament: the “land of offense” became the land of his anointing and power. Listen my friends: the destiny God has for man unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the key to our tomorrow. “Those who love [God’s] law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps119:165).
Lord, grant me that new creation heart that can walk as Jesus walked, through a world of offenses without stumbling. I want to see everything as an opportunity to pray, everything as an opportunity to become Christlike. Lord help me to interpret offenses as opportunities that lead to transformations. Grant me, Lord Jesus, the pulse and beat of Your unoffendable heart. Amen.
For more of Francis Frangipane, see <a href=”http://www.frangipane.org“>www.frangipane.org
The Sequence That Leads To Apostasy
In our last teaching we looked at offenses and examined the lethal effect an offended spirit could have upon our lives. We discussed how the only way to not be permanently offended was to attain the unoffendable heart of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, an offended spirit, left unattended and brooding in our minds, will soon manifest as betrayal, hatred and cold love. Jesus said offenses would be the ultimate cause that leads many to fall from faith. Listen well: Jesus linked the real cause of apostasy not to wrong doctrines, but wrong reactions.
Aren’t right doctrines important? Of course, but we can have right information and still have a wrong response. Doctrinal information can be upgraded and refined, but Proverbs warns that someone “offended is harder to be won than a strong city,” and “contentions” between people “are like the bars of a castle” (Prov 18:19).
Suppose that a husband, instead of expecting a full course dinner from his wife each night, learned to appreciate whatever she was able to offer him? Then, instead of his failed expectation degrading into an offense, there would be a living, sincere appreciation for the food his wife prepared. I know we have arrangements by common consent, but in reality, a wife is under no obligation to cook special meals or do housekeeping. You did not marry her to be your housekeeper, but to become one with her.
You see, expectations can seem like legitimate aspects of a relationship, but they can also cause us to be disappointed and offended when people fall short. I have known situations in the past where my expectations actually blinded me to the efforts being made by a loved one. They were trying to improve in an area I was unaware of because my focus was preset upon a different expectation. I should have been grateful and encouraging. Of course, today I discuss issues and expectations with those close to me, but the weight of my expectation is not on others, but upon myself to be Christlike and sensitive to those around me. I put a premium upon enjoying the uniqueness of others, sincerely thanking God for their contribution to my life.
An offended spirit is an angry spirit. In this case, Naaman was beyond mad; he was furious. Do you find that you are always mad at a particular person? It’s because they have offended you and you haven’t forgiven them. Naaman was offended at Elisha, but what was the real cause of Naaman’s offense? Listen to his words. He said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place, and cure the leper’” (verse 11).
Friends, before the Lord heals you or assigns you some new, elevated position of service, He will often offend you. Why? What is it that gets offended in us? Usually, it is our pride. We come to God desiring physical healing, but the Lord wants us, not only to be healed, but to be humble. Yes, God heals us through our faith, but there our times when our own pride keeps us from receiving the method of God’s healing. The Lord offends us to humble us, so He can give us grace. Faith works through grace, but God only gives grace to the humble.