- ”My Right to be Offended”
- Proverbs 19:11; Romans 12:13
- Lyndol Loyd September 24, 2017
This morning we are continuing in our all church experience, Altar Ego. We have people who are reading the book by author Craig Groschel. Others are also participating in small group studies and all of the messages that I’m preaching are designed to be complimentary to the overall study.
The idea is that an altar is a place where we lay something down before God. Our ego is what we think of ourselves. So we are laying down what we think of ourselves at the feet of God so that we might pick up our altar egos, that is what God thinks of us.
Today, we’re going to talk about laying down our right to be offended. I have to tell you that, quite honestly, for years, I was easily offended and on days when I am less than my best, I still am. Often I am offended, by some of the smallest, most insignificant things. Maybe some of you can relate?
For example, one of the times I would often get offended was while I was driving. This was especially true when I lived in Orlando. They have lots of roundabouts there and invariably no one yields when they are supposed to when entering a roundabout. I would yell out every time it would happen. It wasn’t uncommon for me to talk out loud to other cars as I was driving. I don’t think I’m alone in doing so. Comedian George Carlin was famous for asking, “”Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
Here in Lubbock, I would say that people are much nicer and more courteous drivers than they were in Orlando. People tend to let you into the flow of traffic. Other drivers don’t tend to cut you off as much here, unless you are driving on the access road to the loop and that’s a whole other story.
No, here in Lubbock the big issue I have noticed is that people don’t know how to park. Invariably I pull into a parking lot and think I see an open parking place only to discover that someone driving their monster truck has parked just enough over the line so that no one else can use the other parking space. It is so aggravating to me.
Any of you relate? Yeah, a few of you can. The rest of you holy people, just sit there and polish your halo. I’m talking to the real people here today that deal with stuff like this.
You want to know the latest thing that offended me? Who was the brainiac at ESPN who thought it was a good idea to let Tommy Tubberville do the color commentary for the Texas Tech/Houston football game? Unbelievable.
I don’t know what it would be for you, but maybe someone’s short with you in their tone of voice. You find yourself thinking, “Well, who do they think they are?” Or maybe they’re really slow to respond to you. You text them and then hours go by, “Who do they think they are? What do they have going that’s so important they can’t respond? Just a quick text.” You get really offended.
Or they do something that’s not really great and they don’t say, “Hey, I’m sorry I did this.” Or you do something for them and there’s no real acknowledgment, no hand written thank you note, “Hey, you’re awesome, thank you.” You think, “Well, I did all that for them. They didn’t do anything for me.”
Maybe it’s they cut you off in traffic. What’s even worse is when they cut you off and they have a Christian bumper sticker or symbol on the back of their car, which is precisely why I don’t have one on my car. “Pastor Lyndol just cut me off.” You know?
Why is it that we’re so easily offended? The reason is because we’re living out of our egos, our very insecure egos that want to be right and want to win. But for us to be right, someone else has to be what? They have to be wrong. For us to win, someone else has to what? They have to lose. Our egos not only are easily offended, but some of them actually look to be offended; we’re going to find things wrong everywhere we go.
In fact, some of us form very close friendships with groups of people and our common basis is that we’re offended by the same things. We get together and talk about, “We don’t like them. We don’t like that. We don’t like everybody else.” Why? Because our egos know what’s right. We’re offended because it’s all about us.
What does Scripture say about this very common and very sad condition that we see so often in society today? Proverbs 19:11 is a verse that you might want to commit to memory, it’s a very great verse, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience. It is to his glory to… Overlook an offense.” (NIV)
We live in a world that’s quick to judge, quick to be offended, but very slow to overlook an offense. Now, to overlook something doesn’t mean to pretend like it never happened; to overlook it is a form of forgiveness.
It’s to our glory to pass over an offense, to catch some spiritual altitude and say, “You know, I could stay down there lower and be offended, and get upset and cause a problem and let this weigh me down. But instead, I’m catching some altitude, I’m rising above. It’s to my glory to rise over, to pass over this offense.”
Why do we rarely do that today? It’s because we’re living out of our egos instead of living out of the grace that God extends to us through Christ.
Let me show you a very important verse from Romans 12:3. It starts out this way, “For by the grace given me,” Paul says. Let me ask you a question: “Was Paul extended any grace by God?” The answer is yes, a lot. Do you remember what Paul did before he was a Christian? He killed Christians, he persecuted them. God extended to him a tremendous amount of grace.
Has God extended you any grace in your life? What is it? If it’s “Yes,” everybody say “Yes,” do you hope other people will extend grace to you? What do you think? Yes.
Paul says, “For by the grace given me, I say to every one of you, do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.” Don’t let it be about your ego.
“But rather, think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” When I do — check this out — I will not be so easily offended.
The first point of application is this: Because of Christ’s grace given to me, i’ll give others the benefit of the doubt. Because I’ve been forgiven of so much, I’m going to think the best about others.
Ephesians 4:2 says it this way, “Always be humble and gentle, be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Because of God’s grace for me, through Christ, I will give others the benefit of the doubt.
Isn’t it interesting how often we don’t give others the benefit of the doubt? What do we do? We often judge others by their actions but we judge ourselves by our intentions.
“Well, look what they did. Well, I intended to. You should give me the benefit of the doubt, but I don’t want to give you the benefit of the doubt.” I don’t give others the benefit of the doubt when I expect it for me.
Because of the grace given to me, I’ll very simply give others the benefit of the doubt. When they’re short with me, maybe they’re having a really bad day. Maybe, their teenager is making incredibly destructive decisions and they’re really preoccupied. Maybe they just heard something from the doctor that’s not good news and they’re just not in a place right now to be on their best game. Maybe their bad mood is not about me.
So, as a follower of Christ, here’s what I want. I want to have thick skin and a soft heart. So often, what we have is thin skin and a hard heart. I don’t want to be easily offended. I want to have a soft heart and give people the benefit of the doubt.
For example, in seminary, in a course I took on counseling, one of the things I remember most is that hurt people, hurt people. Right? When people are hurting, they’re defensive, they’re wounded, and if you think of them as wounded, it helps you to have compassion on them rather than being angry and offended by them.
Rather than be offended by them, I have compassion for them. Because of the grace given to me through Christ, I will give others the benefit of the doubt.
The second thing is this: Because of the grace given to me in Christ, I will not label others. Can you imagine if God labeled us? If God took isolated events from different seasons in our lives and labeled us because of the way we behave.
Think about your life before you became a Christian. What if God labeled you from that time period in your life? God says, “Well, here is Lyndol the liar, the thief.” He doesn’t do that. He forgives and gives us other chances.
So often, we take one or two moments in a person’s life and label them based on that place in time. “Well, he’s nothing but a jerk. Well, she’s a you-know-what. Well, he’s a control freak. Well, she’s a ‘this’ and he’s a ‘that.’” We label people permanently over a temporary moment in time.
This is what Jesus said in Luke 6:36-37, “Be merciful just as your father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” Because of the grace Christ has given to me, I will not label others.
The reality is, we all do this all the time. In fact, some of your labeling is even more dangerous than that. You’ve labeled your spouse, “She’s ‘this’ and she’s ‘that.’” You’re discounting what God could do in your spouse’s life. Or you’ve labeled a child or you’ve labeled someone else and God says, “Hey, hey, hey, I’m not labeling you. I’ve shown you grace.”
- Because of the grace that Christ has extended me, I’m going to give others the benefit of the doubt.
- Because of the grace that Christ has extended me, I’m not going to label others.
The third one, and this is a big one: Because of the grace Christ has given me, I will forgive as I’ve been forgiven. I will forgive others as Christ has forgiven me. In fact, this is what Scripture says in Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults.” Now, don’t miss this. Here’s what Scripture says. Do what, everybody? “And forgive anyone who offends you.”
Pause there for a moment. That’s a pretty firm statement, isn’t it? “Forgive anyone who offends you.” Remember, what did the Lord do? The Lord forgave you and so you must do what? So you must forgive others.
So, you may say, “Okay, I get it, Lyndol. So, someone cuts me off in traffic, I’ll forgive them. I can do that. Someone forgets to say, ‘Thank you’, I’ll overlook that. I’ll catch some altitude. I’ll get above that. “
“But, when they do something really, really big, we’re talking like a massive offense, they abuse me or they abuse someone I love, or they lie about me and it costs me something, or she cheats on me; you’re not telling me that. I’ll overlook the small things, but the big things I’m justified in being angry. I’m justified in carrying bitterness. God understands when I want revenge for the big things. Right? I don’t have to forgive those. There’s no way you’re telling me that.”
Jesus said this, and this is incredibly sobering, in Mathew 6:14-15, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your father will not forgive your sins.” It’s incredibly sobering, isn’t it? “If you do not forgive others when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will not forgive you.”
How do you forgive something that seems totally unforgivable?
Let me show you how. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ,” what did God do? “God forgave you.” How do we forgive? We are to forgive just as we have been forgiven. That’s how we’re to forgive; we are to forgive just as we have been forgiven. That’s what the grace of God enables us to do.
What’s so great about this is when you think about how God forgives, if you take an altar and you go back to the Old Testament times, how would people be forgiven?
They would take an innocent animal and they would sacrifice the animal at the altar. With the shedding of blood, they would be forgiven.
There’s a story about the Passover, when they would actually take the blood of a lamb and dip a sponge in it and put it on the top of the doorpost, and then on the sides of the door post. What would happen to the blood at the top of the door post? It would actually drop down to the bottom. There, you see hidden in the Old Testament, a foreshadowing of the cross where the lamb’s blood would be shed and the death angel would then what? Pass over the house that was covered by the blood of the lamb.
What do you see now in the New Testament because of Jesus? Because of the Lamb of God, Jesus, and his shed blood that covers our sins, God now passes over and forgives our sins in real-time. Not because of what we’ve done, but because of what Christ did.
The reality is, we need to understand, when we understand how we’ve been forgiven, we acknowledge hurt people, hurt people. They do, don’t they? Hurt people, hurt people; but, don’t miss this, forgiven people forgive people.
Because, it’s not about us, it’s all about Him. I don’t have a right to be offended, I’m not justified in my anger, and it’s not all about me winning.
Because of what Christ did for me, I’m honored to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m honored not to label others as I don’t want to be labeled.
Because of what Christ did for me, I will forgive others as I’ve been forgiven. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s right. The more you experience the grace of Christ, the more you can forgive in real-time. It’s to His glory to pass over an offense.
“Father, we pray today that your spirit would do something that we’re incapable of doing ourselves, that you would bring healing in our lives where there are offenses. Bring forgiveness, God, where we’ve been holding grudges.”
Today as you’re in an attitude of prayer, let me cut right to the chase. I’m going to ask two big questions first.
- I wonder how many of you are a lot like me, and you find yourself being easily offended, quick to be offended. You don’t want to be that way, but you realize you are. Today, in the presence of God, you want to sacrifice that part of your ego so you can be who God says you are.
- I wonder how many of you, someone has wronged you, hurt you, betrayed you, let you down and you’re holding a grudge. You’ve been offended, and you haven’t let it go. Some of you right now, if you’re really honest, you’re going to say, “I don’t want to let it go. I know I should. I know I should but I don’t want to. God, help me to want to.”
- Others of you, you want to, you’ve tried, but you just haven’t gotten to the place where you’ve totally let it go. One day, when you finally let it go and forgive, you’re going to realize you set a prisoner free and you’re going to realize that you were that prisoner.