Peace, Patience, Tolerance

Proverbs 19:11

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

I am studying “glory” which is how I found this verse. I wrote it down and came back to it today. Apparently, it is to our glory to overlook offense. That’s not something I have heard often. You will be very blessed by reading this verse in several other translations but let me share one more with you. This is the God’s Word version, “A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offense.” Did Solomon, the author of the proverbs, just accuse me of not having good sense? I believe he did! I wish I could argue with him, but I must admit that I sometimes lack patience.

This version reminded me of an expression I used to hear people use to describe someone they find lacking in some way. They would say, “He hasn’t got any sense,” or the country version, for those of you speak it, “He ain’t got good sense.” Often this described a person with no common sense. It could be used to describe someone with intelligence but who lacks common life skills. At first, thinking of that old country expression made me giggle but you know what, this proverb, and that old saying, describe me and a couple of million other folks.

If there is any generality you can confidently express about modern society it is that we are easily offended, easily angered. Slow to anger? What a joke! Accidentally cut in on someone on the road or worst still, let someone cut you off. I can’t say I am slow to anger. Just this morning I was getting aggravated trying to blow dry my hair. The blow dryer cord was getting tangled up and snagged on the bottom of the cabinet and I dropped one of my hairbrushes and couldn’t get the other one out of the drawer. How can such a simple thing cause me to begin to lose my peace? Societal norms have shifted so that it is okay to act like an idiot if someone intentional or even unintentionally offended you. Watch a reality show and tell me if this is a society that honors gentility and patience.

Around the world there is increasing pressure to restrict gun purchases because people are so angry and don’t have sufficient coping skills to deal with their frustrations. As an aside, that is another reason to exercise. It helps to alleviate stress. A good game of racquetball can certainly help.

Of course, if you read yesterday’s Word of the Day, you know the best treatment for anger issues, Psalm 85: 8, listen to what the Lord will say to you for He will speak peace to your heart. Isn’t that right? We need better coping skills and we are not going to get them from the world. It is not okay to lash out in anger. It is not acceptable to cuss and fuss and create a disturbance. And it is certainly not the sign of mature Christianity. I know for myself, when I show lack of patience and tolerance it is a clear sign that I have not been spending enough time with my Father. He gives me peace when I hang out with Him and I am sure He has the same effect on you.


Matthew 11: 6

And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.

Do you find yourself amazed that Jesus would speak such words? I do. But in Romans 9: 33 Paul quoted a passage from Isaiah, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus. Paul, in his writing, confirmed that this prophetic statement from Isaiah had been fulfilled, that Jesus was the stumbling block. Now if Jesus is a cause for stumbling then it must be that we need to take some pains to not offer people offense. In fact Paul told us as much himself, “Give no offense either to Jews or the Greeks or to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10: 32). So, we are to make an effort not to offend others. However, that can also operate as a chilling effect on speech in the church and personally, I find that a troubling situation as well. Some pastors will not preach on certain topics, even though they are Biblical, because they are afraid of offending someone in their congregation. Many pastors will not even preach on tithing for that reason which I find sad because they are really stealing from their parishioners by not sharing God’s economic plan with them. You can hardly blame them, though, because some of those offended people may be influential. Certainly, there are people who will make their displeasure known in very clear language. This is not as it should be.

We are a body but we do not all believe the same. That is evident in the number of denominations we have and even divisions among denominations. Were the truth to be told, most of us do not believe exactly the same as we did some years ago. That is called growth and maturity. We must, therefore, make a decision for unity despite differences of opinion and even differences in revelation. We must choose not to be offended by new thoughts or varying opinions. We are all at different places along the journey and we need to be able to share our thoughts, beliefs and revelations without offending others or being criticized for our seeking of truth.

The most frightening result of our dogmatic refusal to listen to different points of view or to entertain new ideas is that we cannot receive revelation from God. Did I say frightening? I meant terrifying. There is little that causes my heart such trepidation as to think that I nor others can receive the fresh revelation of God. There have been so many times when Father God has shown me something new out of a verse that I thought I knew very well. He keeps peeling back layer after layer showing me that He has more depth than I have ever grasped before. I live from revelation to revelation. That is the glory of Christ, Christ revealed. In John 14, verse 21 Jesus promised that whoever loves him would be loved by him and the father and that he would “disclose Myself to him”. Glory to God! Now, when Jesus reveals himself to you, then by definition it means he is revealing, disclosing something you did not know before. So, if we have an attitude of offense then we will never be able to receive the revelation of Jesus. God forbid! In other words, if we cannot accept or at least tolerate new or different ideas, then Jesus cannot show us anything we do not already know. We are destined to be ignorant. I would hate that destiny for myself and I grieve its ownership by the church. How can we train others or lead them to truth if we are ignorant? How can the church be a might force for good if the world sees us as closed minded and foolish? Certainly, it is the height of foolishness to think that we can evangelize a world when we cannot even get along with each other because of different or new ideas.

It takes a decision to avoid being offended or put off by a different theology. It also requires a bit of self-esteem. No one can make you believe something you do not wish to so why get all upset over someone’s thought which differs from yours? It may be that you will agree with that person sometime down the road when you have had time to think about it and do your own research.

My prayer is that we will embrace all that God wishes to show us in these last days. I pray that we will encourage our pastors and teachers to spend time before God learning and seeking all that God would reveal to us and that we will urge them to share these new revelations with us despite the chance that we may be challenged. I further pray that we will remove the spirit of offense far from us both individually and corporately and that we will in turn embrace the spirit of unity and goodwill.

The Worst Offense?

Proverb 24: 17 – 18

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].

It is so easy to judge other people’s faults. But God did not send you and me into the world to judge it. That is His job alone. He is so adamant in this point that this scripture shows that His wrath will turn from the bad actor to the worse offender, i.e. those of us who judge others. 

We even think we are doing justly when we judge others’ actions yet Jesus said, judge not lest you be judged (Matthew 7: 1). But when we speak to God about other people’s sins or sometimes even our perception of their wrong doings, God’s eyes turn away from their mistakes and onto our outright disobedience.

I know it is difficult but our part is to love and to pray for those whom we think are missing God’s best. And I do not mean those judgmental prayers. You know the ones where we condemn people and attempt to put them under bondage while in a conversation with our heavenly Father. No, our prayers are to be out of love and honest concern for their welfare. Do you want to please your Father? Pray earnestly and lovingly for those people that you think are falling short of God’s glory.

Battle Lines

2 Corinthians 2: 10 – 11

But whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

There is a quick way to let Satan into your life – stand in unforgiveness. However, it is just as easy to jerk the rug out from under him – forgive. I imagine this like a line drawn in the sand. On one side is the devil and the other side is the Father. When you forgive you step across into the garden of the Lord. When you stand in unforgiveness, you are playing in the devil’s sandbox. If you stay there, you give him (Satan) permission to come knock over your sand castle. 

Paul says, “Hey guys, we are not ignorant of the devil’s schemes.” Satan wants you to get offended and remain hurt and angry. Paul and the early church understood that this was Satan’s ploy. The church today teaches forgiveness but doesn’t really seem to understand the spiritual battle that is played out in this scenario. If we remain in unforgiveness, Paul says, we give Satan the opening to take advantage of us.

Now that is really a pretty simple teaching. I should think that no one wants to give Satan an opportunity to take advantage of them. Therefore, the simple conclusion is to forgive everyone who offends you (emphasis on everyone). Let their actions be between them and Jesus. Make your focus undermining the devil’s scheme by forgiving. That is where the battle line is drawn.

The Heart of Truth

John 6: 43, 61           NIV

“Stop grumbling among yourselves.” Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?

The church needs to hear Jesus preach this message again and ask this critical question, “Am I easily offended, do I take offense?” We are living in an age where we must constantly walk on eggshells and I know that it becomes tedious for everyone and stressful to live in this state. But there is a larger issue here. That is that we so easily become offended at the message that Jesus has sent to the body. 

Jesus didn’t mince words. He taught openly and in honesty. And, yes, sometimes people were offended but can we be honest for a moment today without anyone taking offense? The truth of the matter is that those people in Jesus’ time just as the people in our time chose to be offended. It is so interesting that we use the expression “take offense”. That very expression reveals that we exercise our choice to take or not take offense. God would love to give us all the truth but we can’t handle it. Pastors guard themselves and honestly, between you and I, preach watered down messages because they know their parishioners can’t handle it. They endeavor not to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause anyone offense but if we want to be offended, we will find a way. I have met people that you could compliment and they would still be offended. It has become a lifestyle. Now, how is God going to minister life giving truth to us if we are so touchy?

This is life and death stuff here folks. We have got to yearn for the truth and receive it when it comes. We need to take the shackles off of our teachers and beg them to tell us the whole truth. Many clergy will not teach on tithing or giving because they are afraid of offending the congregation. I can appreciate their misgivings but if we will not allow them to teach us about God’s divine fiscal policies then we are doomed to poverty or at best mediocrity.

And I wish to make a personal plea here as well that you can perhaps also apply to your pastor. We have a mandate from God to tell the truth and I like every other minister of the gospel have to decide whether to deliver the message that seems hard or to disobey God. It is not a fun choice but there are two things you should know. Speaking for myself, I never deliver a hard message in order to hurt you. I give the messages that I think God is giving me for you and out of love for you. The Bible teaches us that a parent who loves their child will reprove them. I want the best for you so I am motivated to tell you the truth even if it stings a bit. Secondly, if it is a particularly hard hitting message, don’t be offended. I’m probably not even talking to you. I am probably preaching to myself because believe me, some of these messages are for me more than for anyone else. Some of them seem to be given only for me. But I take that as God’s love for me. He wants us to live the high life, a life of abundance and He knows the things in our lives which are acting as obstacles to this good life. How shall He tell us so that we may move into the better life that He has for us? Shall we choose to be offended when God is trying to help us?

So here is the conclusion. I honestly believe that any time we find ourselves offended by our pastor’s message we should check ourselves. Now, I am not saying that ministers are perfect. I have been offended by some messages too but there is another characteristic that should be working in us too. It is called forgiveness. We must overlook one another’s flaws. Do you believe your pastor hears from God? If the answer is no, change churches. If the answer is yes, then be faithful. Jesus, so many times said, “He who has ears, let him hear.” It could be that we are all still developing our spiritual ears. But let us come to this conclusion. Our minsters were called by God to serve us and they have an anointing on their lives to deliver the gospel. They have our best interests at heart and preach truth, even hard-hitting truth, because of their devotion to us. 

I would like to make this personal again. I apologize right now if I ever hurt your feelings. On the other hand I want you to know that I place a high value on telling you the truth and I trust that you are people of stern stuff rather than wishy-washy, half-hearted Christians. God is raising up His army in our generation and His ministers have been tasked with equipping the saints. I would rather bruise your ego a little than for the enemy to kill you. So this is the choice I make, to tell you the truth as God reveals it to me and trust that you are strong enough to hear it. There may be times you disagree with me. That’s okay. Listen, I still watch and listen to preachers that I have some disagreements with. It is very difficult for us all to agree 100% of the time but that should be no bar to our fellowship. You simply take those things to the Lord and let Him guide you and teach you. Some of those items will lead you into deep revelations. And I will tell you upfront that I am not walking in the full revelation yet. I am still learning as well. So don’t let that hinder you. If we continually allow ourselves to become offended, we end up isolating ourselves and then we develop our own personal theology which is very dangerous. 

Alright, so this is one of those messages I have not wanted to send though it has been on my list for months. When God showed me the exact same verse again today it just could not be avoided any longer. So don’t take offense at a message that teaches not to be offended and let us all remind ourselves that this message began with Jesus speaking. The spirit of offense which is in operation in the body of Christ can, and will, be crushed when we all refuse to feed it or give into its urgings.