Beginning part six of his sermon series “Unoffendable”, Pastor Phyl told us that he wanted to talk about Newton’s third law, which is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
We live in a society that tries to get everyone to change to please the individual, and we can get offended so easily.
Pastor Phyl then said that he wanted to talk to us about “The Fruit Of Offence”, which is what happens in our hearts when we get offended. The thing is that life will continually throw challenges our way that can cause us to take something to heart.
Offence, first of all, starts with the seed. These are: envy, jealousy, and criticism. These can all bring forth a seed that can lead to a fruit that is even more destructive than these.
In Galatians 5, Paul sets out for us the “sins of the flesh”, but he also shows us the other, hidden sins, like hatred, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Pastor Phyl told us that this can be tough to hear, but it is the stuff of life. He asked us to take our own spiritual temperature. Are we a person that brings discord? Are we generally disagreeable, or can we, as it says in Romans 12:18, live at peace with everyone? Can we just let it go?
The seeds of offence, will lead to the fruits of offence. Pastor Phyl asked us who this would hurt in the end, and the truth is that it hurts us. When we allow offence into our hearts, we are effectively harming ourselves. Jesus was unoffendable. He was living out Romans 12.
When we harbour offence, we push it out into the world and harm not only ourselves, but others, in the process. This leads to bitterness. Offence can lead to a desire for revenge, but what we need to do is look to Jesus, because He mends all wounds.
James 1:15 says “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death” The truth is that holding grudges and grievances, leads to hate, and anger. We desire vindication, but really, God is on our side if we let it go.
1 Corinthians 11 tells us clearly the effects of harbouring such bitterness. Holding on to offence is both a chronic and pervasive state, and this bitterness will become a part of us if we allow it. The truth is that offence can destroy our lives.
So, how can we cure ourselves of this bitterness? Almost every writer on the subject of bitterness, has described its ultimate remedy in terms of forgiveness. Forgiveness alone allows us to let go. It is the single most important antidote to the poison of offence, as shown in Ephesians 4:32. This passage of scripture shows quite clearly that we should be kind and compassionate to others. It’s guidance simply put, requires us to “Be a nice human”.
Pastor Phyl then said that he would give us some simple steps that we could follow in order to avoid letting offence take root in our hearts. Firstly, we must observe the ‘three R’s’. These are:
- To realise
- To recognise
- To refuse
In 2 Corinthians 2, it says that we must be aware of the enemy’s devices. He wants us to live in discord with people, but we must be careful to not let this into our hearts.
So, if we are to avoid the trap of offence, and to avoid the fruit of offence, then we must observe four defensive actions.
Firstly, we must continually abide in God’s word. It says in Psalm 119 “Your word I have hid in my heart”. The truth is that God has given us the best weapon possible for us to guard against offence. The bible is God breathed, and we can trust it to be reliable. God only wants the best for us, and we just have to listen to Him.
Secondly, we must exhibit the fruit of the spirit: these are, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. All the while that we exhibit these fruits, then the fruits of offence will find it very difficult to take root in our hearts.
Thirdly, we must choose our ‘team mates’ wisely. It is proven that bad company corrupts good character, and we must be careful to guard our hearts against this, as said in Proverbs 4:23.
Fourthly, we must keep a clear conscience. It says in Acts 24:16-18, “Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affection, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavouring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offence towards God and toward men.” This shows quite plainly that we must always seek to have a conscience that is pure and clean, without the shadow of offence.
In closing, Pastor Phyl urged us to look at these defences, and to hide them in our hearts so that when faced with offence, we can then, take a different path.
Scriptures: Proverbs 4:23, Galatians 5, Romans 12:18, James 1:15, 1 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 4:32, 2 Corinthians 2: 5-11, Acts 24:16-18.