Mr. and Mrs: The fence of offense 

Introduction:

Have you ever struggled with being easily hurt or offended? Most people have. In fact, many people continue to deal with being offended. Life affords many opportunities to be offended every day and that includes relationships. The question is not about whether offenses will arise in our relationships, but rather – what will you do with them when they come? This is when the devil likes to strike. One of his most effective attacks is offense. 

Something To Talk About:

The greater the actions and contributions you make, the greater the opportunity for offense. Our enemy’s agenda is destruction, his strategy is division and his tactic is offense.

  1. The enemy’s agenda is destruction: If you love Jesus, the enemy will hate you. And if you love Jesus, the devil will attack you and try to hurt you so much that you backtrack or lose faith in God. The devil wants to destroy your marriage. He wants to destroy every other good relationship. Why? Because he loves conflict and arguments. He wants to cause confusion, arguments, stress, hurt feelings, disappointment, anger, chaos. He loves to do it. If he cannot destroy he will use all these methods to distract us. He wants us to focus on passing things, rather than focusing on God. At the heart of all diversion is that the devil wants us to focus on lesser things to avoid focusing on greater things, such as a moral decisions, and the overall direction of our life. Once again, we must learn to focus on what matters most, and decisively refuse to be diverted to lesser things.   
  2. The enemy’s strategy is division: The devil’s work of division starts within each one of us as we struggle with all that happens in this life. So many things help drive this division, and the devil surely taps into them all: anger, past hurts, resentments, fears, misunderstandings, greed, pride, and arrogance. There is also the impatience that we so easily develop regarding those we love, and the flawed notion that somehow, other more perfect and desirable people should be sought. And thus many abandon their marriages, family, churches and communities, always in search of the elusive goal of finding better and more perfect people and situations. He also loves to divide families. In fact, one of the most subtle and lethal ways the devil attacks us is by dividing and conquering our relationships. He wants to ruin all of our relationships — with friends, spouses, small groups, parents, and kids. And he knows that the quickest and easiest way to do this is by getting us to divide over our differences. Instead of taking offense or placing blame, choose to remember God’s will and agenda for your life. Remember 1 John 4:4: ”But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
  3. The enemy’s tactic is offense: The devil likes to go on the offensive by using offense. The ease in which offense walks into our lives is very dangerous. Offense is readily transported by hurts, being misunderstood, jealousy, lack of communication, a poor relational foundation and the list goes on and on. No matter what the reason is, we as Christians do not have an excuse or a right to hold onto offenses. If anyone had reason to be offended, it’s Jesus. The One who sat at God’s right hand, participated in the Creation of the world and shared in the glory, honor and power of God, came to earth, and was scorned, mocked, ridiculed and ignored. The Pharisees continually found fault with Him and His work. But Jesus did not try to justify Himself or make people respect Him. He simply spoke the truth about God’s plan. For Jesus, ministry was never about His rights as the Son of God. His heart was to do God’s will. He was too busy doing God’s work to be offended by personal attacks.

Questions:

  1. What first comes to mind when you think of the devil? How do some of the caricatures make it difficult to believe that the devil is real? How have you seen the devil at work?
  2. How does the devil try to divide, distract and destroy us?
  3. There seems to be an increasing gap between the evil that we see and the ability to understand it. Why do you think this is so?
  4. Where in your relationships has an “I can’t” turned into an “I won’t?”
  5. Would you say that you are easy or difficult to offend? Why?
  6. When you do get offended, how do you typically respond? Do you tend to express your frustration or hold it in? How does holding an offense impact our relationships?
  7. Give an example of a time when the way you handled being offended actually came back to hurt you.
  8. What can we do this week to effectively deal with any offenses in our life?

Take One Thing Home with You:

Sorry, but the reality is that our default setting in the U.S. is to be offended. We get offended faster and more efficiently than anyone. And we never seem to get tired of being offended. And the best thing is we are multi taskers, which means we have the wherewithal to juggle six or seven offenses all at once, all the while looking for new offenses which we can add to the mix. and then drop them and pick up new ones in the blink of an eye.

Let me give you one thing to think about this week on taking offense. In most cases, offenses are a result of being too preoccupied with “self”: “No one liked my ideas.” “She was curt with me.” “They hardly talked to me .” “He didn’t even thank me .” “No one ever asked for my opinion.” “Why wasn’t I considered for the position?” “Nobody paid any attention to me.”

C.S. Lewis said true humility is “not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.” When we are preoccupied with ourselves we lose focus on the relationships we wish to build or strengthen and open the door to our adversary.