(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 28 June 2015)
MY SPIRIT, MY RESPONSIBILITY
DEALING WITH OUR OFFENSES
A man applied for a job at a zoo. The manager informed him that all the positions had been filled except one. He explained that there was a lack of monkeys in the zoo and asked if he was willing to dress up as a monkey. The man was desperate and he agreed to do it. So, the next day onwards he put on the monkey costume, swung from tree branches and entertained the visitors. Accidentally, he swung from one tree branch into the next cage. Looking up, he saw a lion. The man screamed for help. Suddenly, the lion said, ‘Hush! If you don’t remain quiet, then both of us will lose our jobs’!
Apparently, the lion was acting too!
As funny as it sounds, it’s interesting to note that we are also acting most of the time. The reason for our acting skills is because we don’t want people to see the baggage that we are carrying. Our baggage consists of tons of offenses due to unmet expectations from loved ones! We may be hurt and sad, but adeptly mask or face with a smile and a chuckle! We would hate it if people could see our rejection, loneliness, misery and dejection, and form opinions about us!
As we have seen in the past, offenses are inevitable! Luke 17:1 says, ‘Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!’ As we have already observed, offense comes from a Greek word called ‘scandolin’, meaning a ‘trap that holds us and incapacitates us from walking effectively toward our destiny’. For e.g. – Alan might be offended by me. I may not even know about it. But wherever he goes, I am hooked on to his subconscious mind. He can’t walk properly because he is carrying me (figuratively) on his back. The larger number of people he carries, the greater will his burden be!
The question is how we deal with our offenses.
Let’s sprint through David’s life to see how he dealt with offenses.
THE FAVORED ONE
Prophet Samuel anointed David as Israel’s next king. But he had to wait to ascend to the throne because Saul was still the king. King Saul started getting tormented by evil spirits. He realized that when the harp was played he would get some relief. So they searched for a harp player. Guess who they recruited? David. So, David made his first entrance into the palace.
Sometime later, David’s father sent him with provisions for his brothers who were in Saul’s army. David got there and saw Goliath who was mocking and challenging the Israelites and Yahweh. Enraged, he took on Goliath and killed him in one shot! Saul was overjoyed. He welcomed him into his household. Saul’s son Jonathan became David’s best friend. Saul gave his daughter in marriage to David. Suddenly, he was surrounded by everyone’s favor.
Alas! It lasted only a little while!
THE FLIGHT OF THE FAVORED ONE
Saul and David were returning from a battle victoriously. The Israelites welcomed them singing, ‘Saul slayed thousands, David slayed ten thousands’. Hearing this, Saul was offended. Envious, he decided to kill David. In no time, David, the favored one, was on the run. From the lap of luxury in the palace, he fell into the pits of the wilderness. Saul kept up the pressure to hunt David down. He even went to the extent of killing anyone who helped David. In fact, he wiped out 85 priests, their families and livestock because one of the priests had unwittingly aided David!
Now, David had numerous occasions to take revenge on Saul. At one time, Saul entered the cave that David was hiding in, to relieve himself. David stealthily cut off a small portion of Saul’s garment and ran to a neighboring hilltop. He cried out, ‘My Father! See the corner of your robe is in my hand. I could have killed you, but I didn’t. There is neither rebellion nor hatred in my heart. Yet, you seek to kill me’. Saul remorsefully seeks David’s forgiveness and leaves. But after some time, he sets out to kill David again. This time, David found Saul and his army sleeping at night. He crept into the camp at night when everyone was fast asleep. His man suggested killing Saul. David sharply refused. Again, he remained true and obedient to God.
When someone hurts us, how do we deal with it? Do we avoid them, hold a grudge, sulk and seek revenge? Or at the first chance that we get, do we gossip about them? In the olden days, spears and swords caused much damage. Today, those have been replaced with the words of our mouths.
Sometimes, the ones who let us down are our mentors, spiritual leaders or even a boss who is a believer. Maybe, it’s out of envy or jealousy at our progress in life. Whatsoever the reason is, the pain of being slighted is great.
Let me share a personal experience with you. Many years ago, I was sent out to start a new church service. Since there weren’t many English services at that time in Chennai, I was keen to start one. Around that time, I met an older man of God who was a great singer and spoke good English. We bonded, and I shared with him my desire to start an English church.
A few days later, he went out of station. While strolling through the neighborhood and praying, I came across a perfect place to start the church service. Excitedly I rung him up and shared my discovery. He was thrilled too. He requested me to wait for his return. I agreed. He returned with some good musical instruments and the church started. Three months flew by.
One day, they took some photographs for a mission newsletter. I saw the developed photographs and was aghast to see that not a single one of mine was captured. I was so offended that I decided that I couldn’t continue to partner with this man. So I wrote him a letter detailing my unhappiness and walked out of that congregation.
Life moved on. I got married and started this church. God blessed our gatherings and services. More and more people were being saved and added to the church. One fine day, while praying, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to reconcile with this man. I attempted resisting. But the Spirit of God didn’t relent until I obeyed. I bought a shirt for the gentleman and went to meet him on his birthday. We exchanged pleasantries and then I apologized. To my surprise, he also expressed regret about what had happened. We hugged, cried, prayed together and made up.
I remember feeling so relieved after that incident!
Sometime later, I had undergone a surgery. This man visited me and took Anjali and me out for dinner. Over dinner, he told us that he was planning to relocate and plant a new church. There were about five families left from his present ministry and he wanted to know if I would be willing to minister to them. I was surprised but I realized that he was convinced about it, so I agreed. We are still on very good terms and visit and pray for each other often.
RESULT OF DEALING WITH OUR OFFENSE
You see, when we deal with our offenses, God-ordained destiny comes running to us. David didn’t run behind the kingship. It came after him. 2 Samuel 1 says that after Saul died, the crown came to David. When we deal with our offenses, God quickens us to what He has destined for us. On the other hand, if we don’t deal with it, the enemy uses it as a bait that holds us back and doesn’t allow us to move forward. It tears apart families, splits ministries and churches, and breaks up marriages. Peter dealt with offense and became a great man of God. Judas got baited by the offense and ended up taking his own life.
Offenses are inevitable. But let’s not keep anything unfinished in life. Let’s deal with our offenses at the earliest.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this message in the comments section below.