I don’t often sit around begrudging my past. Shoot, it’s difficult to remember what happened yesterday, but I admit, there are some offenses that are more difficult to forget than others.
Not offending others has become a national preoccupation.
We are vigilant about what we say, how we say it, and whether or not someone will be hurt by it. In the end much of what should not be said still is voiced, and what should be said isn’t. Crazy, huh?
But here’s the thing. As much as we agonize over word-wars and the possible ensuing offenses, the same seldom applies to our sensitivity regarding offending God. And this should be our first line of concern.
God hates sin. He isn’t afraid or hesitant to proclaim, mince-words, nor bashful to define sin. All sin is an offense to His righteousness.
I just began Romans in my daily Bible reading. The first chapter describes life when it was written thousands of years ago and it is blatantly in society’s face today. Check out Romans 1. Scripture, inspired by God, does not hold back.
Sin offends God. This is far more important than our own offenses to one another. Sometimes we mix that up. We worry more about offending another person and less about offending God. We are concerned more about what others may think than what God Himself says.
Back when my daughter was a little three-year-old, she ran into the street. She knew she shouldn’t but she did anyway. She was greatly offended by the punishment I gave her. But, as a mom, I resolutely risked her trembling lip and tear filled offended eyes for the sake of her safety.
I loved her more deeply than I cared about momentarily hurting her feelings. Especially when it meant saving her from something much worse. Love does that. True love cares about the consequences of continuing in that hell-bent “catch-me-if-you-can” jubilation.
To offend is not the same as to hate. At the same time, our speech should to be guided by the Spirit, full of grace and truth, as was Jesus’. (John 1:14)
Nor is love measured by offense. Sin offends the holiness of God. Yet, He loves us completely.
Moving forward from the first chapter of Romans, where Paul expressly describes God’s wrath on unrighteousness, he continues by asking another question in chapter 2. It stirs up in my mind the idea of one running out into a street full of speeding cars. Sin offends the holiness of God. Click To Tweet
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4
I don’t love to be presumed upon. The Hebrew word means to “view with contempt, despise, disdain or think little of.” Israel’s relationship with God displayed a complacent self-righteousness which had its own legalistic bars. Their measurements of tolerance toward sin actually showed contempt for God’s kindness.
Sometimes, we also show contempt for God’s kindness, forbearance and patience, by swerving around what the Bible clearly condemns. Somewhat like a self-centered child skirting what is right and safe, to do what she or he wants to do.
God’s written Word shows us what offends God.
When my love for God succumbs to prevalent teaching rather than His Word, we presume on His forbearance, kindness, and patience. He is offended. But, when my standards are set by my love for God, some will declare it unloving because they find it offensive. God’s written Word shows us what offends God Click To Tweet
I think back to how I grabbed my little traffic-bound girl and swung her into my arms. I held her tight and shuddered at what could have been. I remember being torn between my deep love, sheer relief, and the discipline needed.
Sometimes love will offend. It may hurt.
There’s a lot of yelling, blaming, and accusations happening out there in the world. As Christ followers we need to increase our sensitivity about what offends the heart of the Father so that the lines we stand on are clear and crisp.
If we love with eternity in view, we must sometimes risk offending people rather than God.
And when the shoe is on our foot? How do we react when we are offended?
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Luke 17:3-4 NKJV
Jesus nailed our offenses to a cross. May we learn to love the way He did, and abundantly pour it out with grace and truth.