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!

A Lesson From The Repenting Bench.

I remember when I was growing up, my dad would give us an instruction, and we would not understand the importance of that instruction until everything went awry. 

Have you ever felt dissatisfied and unhappy? Have you ever felt powerless? Are you ready for change and moving forward?  Are you unhappy with the quality of your life and relationships?  This is actually a good place to be, because you are now motivated to do what is necessary to change and you have positioned yourself to be teachable.

I remember when I was growing up, my dad would give us an instruction, and we would not understand the importance of that instruction until everything went awry.  Then my dad would come alongside, love us and instruct us some more.  What changed?  My dad’s instructions were still the same, his love was the same…. What had changed……ME!  I was finally in a position to hear what he had to say, I was finally in a teachable mode, and I was ready for change.


God uses events, crisis and people in our lives to bring us to points of dissatisfaction; He is waiting for us to come into a teachable mode where change can occur.

So how do we move forward?  How do we change?  How do we go from the known to the unknown? How do we break old patterns and modes of dealing with conflict and stress? I believe that it must start with ME.

As an adult I have appreciated my dad’s parenting, he raised me to be responsible for myself.  He loved on me, comforted me, defended me, but he always made me responsible for my part.  What did I do?  What could I have done differently?  These are hard lessons, but it did not allow a victim mentality to be created in me.  I did not understand that when I was 15, but I sure appreciate it now as an adult!  He gave us the skills to navigate through life, preventing life from navigating us.  He taught us the value of self-analysis and that blame shifting can’t be tolerated if we wanted to move forward.

My children love to tell the story of the ‘repenting bench’!  They launch into tales of this infamous bench with gusto and laughter, each one adding their own viewpoint and story line.  This infamous bench was actually the piano bench in our home.  When the children were fighting with each other, we would make them sit together on the bench and work it out and apologize to each other.   From the other room, we would hear them bicker and argue some more about who did what and who said sorry first last time!  We would let this go on for a bit to see if they could work it out, and then we would step in if they couldn’t.

Now the tendency of our children was to tell on their sibling the things their sibling had done to them.  It usually involved them both talking at once and over each other!  David and I would stop them and say, ‘I only want to hear what you did to your sibling’.  This was a hard task, because invariably they wanted to justify what they did by telling us what their sibling had done to them.

Now the beauty of this bench was, if your sibling wasn’t exactly honest in their version of the truth, the other child quickly made it know.  Eventually we got down to the bottom of the issue, and who did what to whom, apologies were made, hurt feelings mended and relationships restored.  They tell these stories today with laughter and who said what, and who did what first, but they learned a valuable lesson – be responsible for your own attitudes, words and actions.

 So where am I going with these stories?  Well, I hope that it illustrates a couple of points.  One:  for change to occur, I must be in a teachable mode, and I must be ready to listen and make changes.  Two:  I must be brave and look at ME – my own attitudes, actions and words.

Take a fresh look, with objective eyes, to see what needs to change.  The ability to look at ME objectively (without excuses) is a challenge but it is necessary if I ever want to live a different life.

1 +1 will always equal 2.  If I am not happy with my outcome – I must change my part of the equation.  God always remains the same, He is constant, it’s our part of the equation that needs changing up.

Often when we are dissatisfied with our lives we look outward to other people, circumstances and events.  The greatest challenge is to look inward….what do I need to change?  What am I responsible for? What in my life does not line up with God’s Word and Kingdom principles?  These are tough questions, but if we want a different outcome to our equation, we must look at ourselves not others.

We have a saying in our house, ‘Learn the lesson the first time, so you can move on and you don’t have to visit it again!’  This is easier said than done!  Sometimes we get it right the first time, and other times we go around the mountain several times!  But if we can be teachable and take a few moments to be objective about ourselves, the payoff is huge!

Be a Life Builder!

Sometimes we forget the impact that our words have.  God has given us some pretty specific instructions regarding our words.  He has cautioned us to watch what we speak, because our words are creative source.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.  Proverbs 18:21

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! James 3:5

Sometimes we forget the impact that our words have.  God has given us some pretty specific instructions regarding our words.  He has cautioned us to watch what we speak, because our words are creative source.  They either create life or death.

What is the confession coming out of your mouth today?  What negative things are you reinforcing by your words?  Stop and listen to what you are saying.  Is your conversation and words life building or do your words put you and others into a box – a sick box, a religious box, an identity box, a relational box?  Let’s line our words up with God’s Word!

Proverbs say to guard your thinking because your thoughts run your life, and Luke says that your mouth speaks what your heart is full of.

We need to recognize and connect the correlation between our words and our lives, and see the impact that our words are having on ourselves as well as those around us.  If you don’t like an area of your life right now, take a few moments and analyze what you have been communicating about this area in your life.  Then make a conscience effort to adjust your speech to line up with life building strategies.

We may not think our words are important, but they frame our lives, they set the course for our success or failures. Set yourself up for success – speak life!

Proverbs 4:23 Be careful what you think,
 because your thoughts run your life.

Luke 6:45 For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.