We probably all remember the advertising campaign for milk a few years ago. It featured well-known celebrities with milk mustaches along with the caption “Got Milk?” Milk leaves a tell-tale sign, as anyone who’s been around young children can agree.
The same is true of offenses. They leave definite marks wherever they are allowed to fester. Pastor Rhonda has taught several timely messages about the dangers of hanging onto offenses. You can watch one here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA8U15AhAh4 .
The Bible says that it’s harder to make peace with an offended person than it is for an army to conquer a city surrounded by strong walls.
An offended brother is more resistant than a strong city, and disputes are like the locked gate of a castle tower. (Proverbs 18:19)
The Greek word for offense is skandalon, and it refers to the bait stick used for an animal trap. The stick would be attached to something attractive, so the animal would refuse to let it go and become stuck in a trap as a result. For us humans, a skandalon is an offense or a snare that causes us to stumble.
Good hunters know that traps are more effective when they have attractive bait and when they are camouflaged. Isn’t that true for us as well? The devil is a hunter, seeking souls to destroy, and he uses deception to catch us in situations that are often easy to get into, but quite tricky to escape.
Because of the deceptive nature of our enemy and our own humanity, it’s possible to be offended and not realize it–especially if we’ve learned to make excuses for the way we feel. In a recent message, Pastor Rhonda gave a checklist to help in identifying the presence of offense in our hearts.
- Offense rejects wise counsel and good suggestions.
- Offense obscures vision.
- Offense prevents progress.
- Offense initiates generational bondage.
- Offense promotes detachment.
- Offense creates false perception.
- Offense influences preferences.
- Offense attracts demonic harassment.
- Offense diminishes sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
- Offense muzzles conviction.
It’s easy to see that offenses take on a life of their own and bring about all sorts of destructive outcomes. This list is a great way to take personal inventory of our hearts to discover hidden offenses. We may have a hard time identifying offense, but there is no way to deny the fruit of offense that is listed here.
Here are some questions to ask as we evaluate the condition of our hearts where offenses are concerned:
- What good advice am I reluctant or refusing to apply? (Remember this refusal can look appear to be something harmless like “just wanting to find my own solution” or mysteriously “forgetting” to follow through with suggestions.
- Do I have a clear vision for my life or am I sort of wandering around from one idea to the next?
- What have I accomplished lately? Am I any closer to the goals I set last year?
- What destructive patterns are in my family?
- Has my committment decreased in any area of my life? (church, work, relationships)
- Am I consistently a poor judge of character? Do I embrace enemies and reject good people in my life?
- Do I prefer people, places, and things that I once disapproved of? Am I revisiting activities that I was once delivered from?
- Am I troubled with nagging health symptoms, constant financial setbacks, frequent misunderstandings, nightmares, etc.?
- Do I feel the presence of God less than I used to? Do I find it difficult to pray, to worship, to read my Bible?
- When was the last time I felt convicted about sin in my life? Have I blurred the lines between right and wrong?
With this checklist and personal evaluation questions, we have a good place to begin ridding ourselves of hidden and long-standing offenses that have been causing delays and all sorts of stagnation in our lives. This week, take time to work through the checklist and questions and allow the Lord to shine His light on every trap that has ensnared you.
Father, in the name of Jesus, I thank You for the truth of Your Word that makes me free when I believe it and apply it to my life. I repent of all offenses, and I confess that I have made excuses for not forgiving others the way You have forgiven me. Help me to be honest with myself, with others, and mostly with You so that my heart doesn’t become like a walled fortress that cannot give or receive love and instruction. By Your power, I walk free from every trap of offense that has held me as a prisoner. In Jesus’ name, amen.