Reading the news or any FaceBook feeds would reveal that someone….somewhere is offended by something on any given day. EVERYONE is offended from time to time because we are living in an ungracious time in which people seem to take delight in acting like spiritual pigs.
Often, it’s not an act. They often really ARE spiritual pigs, just being themselves, rolling around in the slop of public attention.
Any Christian who takes any stand on any issue that matters to the Lord will eventually collect a few people who will hate him for it.
When others hate him for it they (sadly even other Christians will do this at times) apparently feel as if it is proper to try to destroy the other person at any cost.
Nothing is off the table when it comes to the foul things they will do to others….all justified, somehow, by their offense. These include malicious gossip, lies, manipulation of the souls of others (essentially, witchcraft), character assassination, theft, and reviling (abusing with contemptuous language).
Satan enjoys using these people like this.
Their hope is apparently that someone will run back to the target of their reviling and tell that person. USING the messengers to try to hurt the people they hate THROUGH the messengers. Someone almost always seems to partner with them in this.
When this happens because of something said or done in the name of Jesus, i.e., someone has stood for the truth in some way, the attack is really not just toward the human about whom they are gossiping but also toward Jesus Himself, since He embodies all Truth (John 14:6).
Jesus knew this would happen.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, for in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
It is never pleasant when this happens to you but there IS some comfort in knowing that we have great company in Jesus and in other humans who are hated, excluded, reviled and spoken of as being evil in service toward the Lord.
If you try to serve the Lord faithfully, it WILL happen to you.
This has happened to me a few times in the years I have been a Christian. One of the times it happened to me, someone came to me and said that someone told her that she had been told by another person a lie that was particularly hurtful toward my wife and myself about our marriage. This takes so much work and ties up so many of the Lord’s people and resources.
It WAS hurtful to hear it. It was also so obviously untrue and, I might add, completely ridiculous, that it revealed the desperation that was in the heart of the one who first uttered it. It made me sad to know that someone trusted in the Lord so little that they would resort to such deceptive foolishness but satan does that in the hearts of people all the time, even Christians who allow him to do it.
I thanked the person who told me and really didn’t say much else. She said, “So, what are you going to do about this?” and I replied, “Nothing.” She was incredulous and wanted to know why I planned to do nothing about it.
I knew the originator of this malicious gossip and had witnessed the person do it several times in the past so I anticipated it would happen anyway. I had resolved to not REACT especially since that was the hope of the person doing it.
My reasoning is this: I belong to the Lord (Mark 9:41). HE is my protector (Psalm 61:3). It is HIS place to take revenge on my behalf (Romans 12:19). My role, in Christ, is to enjoy the Lord’s rest and whatever “land” He has granted to me (Joshua 1:15).
“For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…” (1 Peter 2:20-23)
So, my initial response to her was to say I would do nothing about the malicious gossip directed toward myself and my wife. But, then, I was praying while we spoke and it occurred to me that there WERE two things I would do.
I said, “I want to change what I just told you. I WON’T do anything in reaction to what is being done to us but I WILL respond by doing two things. The first is that I will continue to walk in forgiveness toward this person, continuing to forgive and now, in particular, for this latest thing.”
“…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5)
I continued: “The second is that I will do something that I have rarely seen the need to do but will do now because this is harmful to the local Body of Christ and the person had been voluntarily under my spiritual authority at the time this began. I will deliver this person to satan for the destruction of his/her flesh.”
Then I went on with my life, praying for all the people involved whenever the Lord brings them to mind.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, Satan is VERY active using people to offend and be offended. His goal is to divide people until everyone is alone, isolated from all others, and completely vulnerable to the devil’s tactics. The way people use social media and phone calls and texts and face-to-face gossip to express their outrage and take revenge on one another plays right into the devil’s hands.
He’s making fools of us.
Most of these are lost people but, sadly, many are Christians. Satan uses the wounds and strongholds he has placed into their souls to do his work for him.
I have purposefully not identified any of the people in the personal example I used here. There are some reasons for that.
The primary one is that I have forgiven all the people involved and hope for nothing but good for them. What they did only bothered me for a little while. While it will never be comfortable to recall the incident, I’m over it. However, I still miss having in my life the ones who did it and haven’t yet chosen to obey the Lord and reconcile (Matthew 5:24).
The other reason is that I choose to not see them in terms of this offence. Rather, I see them in terms of Jesus since they are in Him. This sad chapter in our lives has passed. My expectation is that they will continue to allow Him to minister to their souls and that offenses like these won’t characterize them.
My purpose for writing this article was to address the devil’s enjoyment of using offense. It is also to equip those who wish to stop being controlled by what satan does through people through either offending one another or “being offended”.
Brothers and sisters, let’s resolve to rise above such things. Let’s stop doing the devil’s work for him.
Instead, let us focus on the Lord.
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12 - NASB)
Let’s take those things we know in our heads is part of being a Christian: belonging to Him, His protection, His provision, His revenge, our identities in Him…and actively employ them until they reside in our hearts as well.
Let’s LIVE in Christ.
Unfortunately, the devil won’t stop until he is in the pit. The supply of people in today’s world that seem eager to cooperate with the enemy of our souls appears to be inexhaustible. We should be prepared for someone to offend us as time goes on.
As we close let’s keep Peter’s encouragement in mind:
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (disgraced). For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:13-17)
Let’s walk wisely in this life…aware….watching where we put our feet.
Let’s always know…we are IN Him and, therefore, are safe.
Pastor Mike McInerney
© December 15, 2018
For use with permission