Offensive About Offense

“I refuse to live in offence!” We have lived out this refrain.   We have learned to live from a posture of being offensive about offence…

“I refuse to live in offense!”

We have lived out this refrain.   We have learned to live from a posture of being offensive about offence, and it has changed our lives! Oh, the freedom and liberty that we live in!

What does that mean?  Does that  mean that my feelings will never get hurt or that people will stopping doing things that irritate and offend me? No, of course not!  Then how am I suppose to live free of offense?  What does that mean?  I want to give you some very practical tools in how to employ this in your life.  You can live this way too!

I CHOOSE to live from a posture of forgiveness.  I forgive, release and let go.   Being relentless about not carrying offense in my heart, not allowing it to create a root of bitterness.  I am relentless about relationships.  Relationships are  important to me.

Colossians 3 talks about being merciful as we try the understand others, being unoffendable in our patience of others, being tolerant of the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them.  Wow!  This is a challenging passage (see full verses below).

A little secret……forgiving someone does not require me telling them how they hurt me, it does not require them to admit they were wrong, it does not require them to ask me for forgiveness, it does not even require them to change!  WHAT? Not change?  How is that right?

What if they never change?  Do I still allow them to interact with me in counter productive behavior?  That is a great question!  Part of healthy relationships is having healthy boundaries.   We must learn to clearly and lovingly set boundaries with people.  We must also recognize that we cannot change people.  Setting of healthy boundaries is for another blog post.

Forgiveness is really not about them at all!  Forgiveness is for me, my health, and my benefit.  Forgiveness is something I do with my Father.  I work it out with Him.  Don’t allow other people’s inability to work out difficulties to prevent you from walking in a life of freedom.   CHOOSE today to live from this position!

Colossians 3:12-15
You are always and dearly loved by God! So put on the garment of the virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity. Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful, overflowing with gratitude for your life-union with Christ.  Passion Translation

10 Keys for Practically Walking in Love

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process…

Keys for practically walking in love and compassion.

 

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process and we are to continually grow in love and compassion.

1.  Value.

  • We must recognize that EVERYONE has value.  They may not look or sound like us, but they still have value.
  • The more you value someone, the more precious they become to you.

2. Respect.

  • Because we value people, we will respect them.
  • We need to earn people’s respect, but I will respect the other person regardless.

3.  Freedom.

  • We must never attempt to control people with the threat of withholding our love.
  • Give them the freedom to make their own choices. Those choices may have consequences, but they should be clearly differentiated from our love
  • Allow the people in our lives to be free and be who God created them to be.
  • Manipulation tries to control and restrict other people’s freedom.
  • Manipulation is fear based.

4. Expectations.

  • What are my expectations?
  • Am I expecting something that is not realistic or theirs to carry?
  • Realize that NO ONE is perfect, not even you!

5. Communication.

  • Have I clearly communicated my expectations?
  • Have I listened without jumping to conclusions?
  • Have I listened without preconceived ideas marring my judgment?
  • Have I re-stated back to them what they are trying to communicate? (Listening exercise)

6. Judgment

  • Is my first mode judgment and correction or is it compassion and coming alongside?  An answer to this question is action.  If I am continually irritated by something but I choose not to come alongside something is wrong.  My discomfort should lead me to a love action, a coming alongside, compassion, a desire to see them succeed.  In some cases, this means JUST prayer.  If we have not developed a rapport with people, we do not have access to speak into their lives.  But whether it is getting involved with people or just prayer, it requires US to do something.  Compassion moves us from judgment to action.  It takes us out of passive to being active.  Judgment is passive – you don’t do anything.  Compassion cannot live in passivity.
  • Judgment is not our job. Stay out of judgment.
  • Judgment and discernment are two different things.

7. Commitment.

  • Recognize that relationships take hard work. Patience, long suffering, working together is required.
  • Be committed in your relationships.
  • Don’t run at the first sign of conflict.
  • Be committed to doing your part to resolve the conflict.
  • Work at being in a right relationship with each other again.
  • Commitment is a mindset that I have and portray.
  • Their response doesn’t determine my commitment.

8.  Forgiveness.

  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Ask yourself, ‘if that was me, how would I want to be treated?’
  • Extend the same grace that you have received to others.

9. Find the good.

  • Every person has value; therefor, you will find something good in them.
  • Celebrate the good.

10.  Live in joy.

  • Live in joy.  It is not your job to change people, so relax and enjoy life!

Listening for Instructions

I remember taking a test when I was in high school (a long, long time ago!)  The teacher handed out the test and said, ‘Read the whole test first before you start writing.’ 

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” Acts 8:29

I remember taking a test when I was in high school (a long, long time ago!)  The teacher handed out the test and said, ‘Read the whole test first before you start writing.’  Invariably there were those who did not obey the instructions and began filling in the blanks as they read the test.  At the end of the test, the very last question, said, ‘Write your name on your test and do not answer any of the questions.’   You could hear the groaning around the room as each of us got to the end of the test!

Instructions are important; they are vital for our success!  We see it in our natural lives every day, instructions from our parents, from our bosses, from teachers; and we know if we follow their instructions we will succeed in what they are asking us to do.  But how tuned are our spiritual ears to hear?  How often do we rush ahead of the Holy Spirit; we don’t wait for Him to instruct us?  Think how successful we could be if we would just learn to wait and listen for His instructions!

 The Holy Spirit instructs us.  He listens to what the Father is saying and then He speaks to us, instructing us.  The account of Philip and the Ethiopian is a really great example of how the Holy Spirit gives detailed instructions and then shows the results of what happens when we obey His instructions.   There will always be fruit when we obey the instructions that the Holy Spirit gives us.  God is at work and He is wants you to join Him!

Acts 8:26-29 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying,
“Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from
Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”

The Holy Spirit instructed Philip to ‘Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.’  Philip was given a very specific instruction.  He encounters the Ethiopian treasurer, he was a powerful man who had great authority, he worked for the queen of the Ethiopians, Candace.  The Ethiopian is reading the prophet Isaiah out loud while he is sitting in his chariot.

Now we see the Holy Spirit give Philip another very specific instruction. Go over and walk along beside the carriage.  Philip obeys and shares the Good News of Jesus with him and then proceeds to baptize him.

The Holy Spirit gave Philip instructions; he was obviously very familiar with God’s voice.  Then he obeyed.  There was great fruit because of his obedience to the Holy Spirit.

 The Holy Spirit will give you instructions.  He will tell you how to proceed in a particular area, He will instruct you on how to avoid pitfalls.  His instructions are always based upon the Word and they never violate His nature, character or attributes.

In Acts 8, the Holy Spirit was giving an instruction to Philip.  He was telling him what to do.  Why? Because He had a plan in mind and He had an end goal that He wanted accomplished and He used Philip to carry out His assignment and directives.

Can you image if we all would listen for His instructions and then obey them?  The world would change!  People’s lives could be transformed forever.

He has a plan for you, He has an end goal for you, He has something He wants to accomplish through you.  Are you listening and willing to obey?