By Francis Frangipane
shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate
one another. . . . And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many
shall wax cold" (Matt. 24:10-12 KJV).
The Sequence That Leads To Apostasy
our last teaching we looked at offenses and examined the lethal effect
an offended spirit could have upon our lives. We discussed how the only
way to not be permanently offended was to attain the unoffendable heart
of Jesus Christ.
Attaining Christ’s heart is not a
minor issue. Remember, Jesus warned that in the last days "many" would
be offended. A wounded spirit is not the same thing as an offended
spirit -- an offense occurs when we do not process our wounds in a
Christlike manner. Indeed, an offended spirit, left unattended and
brooding in our minds, will soon manifest as betrayal, hatred and cold
love. Jesus said offenses would be the ultimate cause that leads many to
fall from faith. Listen well: in the above verse, Jesus linked the real
cause of apostasy not only to wrong doctrines, but wrong reactions.
right doctrines important? Of course, but we can have right information
and still have a wrong response. Doctrinal information can be upgraded
and refined, but Proverbs warns that someone "offended is harder to be
won than a strong city," and "contentions" between people "are like the
bars of a castle" (Prov. 18:19).
Yes, beware of false
leaders, but more deceitful than false prophets or teachers are our own
hearts when they are offended (Jer. 17:9). Are you living with an
offended heart? If so, you are gradually slipping away from true
Christianity, which is known for its agape love.
dealing with an offended heart is vital in maintaining ongoing spiritual
maturity. For this reason, we need to look again at the things that
unrealistic or exaggerated expectations we sometimes put on others will,
at some point, cause them to fall short and offend us. Some expect
their spouse or pastor or friends to meet their every need -- and yes,
they will meet some of our needs. However, at the deepest level, our
souls were created to find security in God, not man. When the Almighty
truly becomes our source of peace and provision, our well-being is
defined by our awareness of God's love. As we put our confidence in God,
we can live more comfortably with the people around us.
the very power of our expectations can choke out the sweetness of a
personal relationship. Suppose that, instead of burdening people with
our expectations, we simply learned to appreciate them for themselves --
no strings attached. What if we approach family and friends with
gratitude for what they are doing rather than disappointment for what
they failed to do?
Suppose that a husband, instead of
expecting a full-course dinner from his wife each night, learned to
appreciate whatever she was able to offer him? Then instead of his
failed expectation degrading into an offense, there would be a living,
sincere appreciation for the food his wife prepared. I know we have
arrangements by common consent, but in reality, a wife is under no
obligation to cook special meals or do housekeeping. You did not marry
her to be your housekeeper, but to become one with her.
imagine a husband who works a long, tiring job. However, his wife
expects that he will work another two hours at home or go shopping with
her or listen attentively about her problems. What if instead she
welcomed him at the door and sincerely thanked him for daily giving
himself to support their family? What if she met him not with demands
but with appreciation? Perhaps she might even massage his shoulders and,
because of love, have his favorite meal prepared.
see, expectations can seem like legitimate aspects of a relationship,
but they can also cause us to be disappointed and offended when people
fall short. I have known situations in the past where my expectations
actually blinded me to the efforts being made by a loved one. They were
trying to improve in an area I was unaware of because my focus was
preset upon a different expectation. I should have been grateful and
Of course, today I discuss issues and
expectations with those close to me, but the weight of my expectation is
not on others, but upon myself to be Christlike and sensitive to those
around me. I put a premium upon enjoying the uniqueness of others,
sincerely thanking God for their contribution to my life.
When God Himself Offends Us
fact is that false expectations can become a source of many deep
offenses. However, one of the worst offenses we can suffer is when God
Himself purposely offends us.
In 2 Kings 5 we read the
story of when Naaman, a Syrian general, sought to be healed of leprosy
by Elisha, the prophet. When Naaman and his entourage arrived at
Elisha’s house, Elisha didn’t greet him personally but instead sent his
servant with a word/cure for Naaman. It was a simple assignment for the
military leader: wash seven times in the Jordan River. However, the cure
offended Naaman. Why didn’t the prophet himself come out? Why this
muddy Jordan? Scripture says that "Naaman was furious."
offended spirit is an angry spirit. In this case, Naaman was beyond
mad; he was furious. Do you find that you are always mad at a particular
person? It’s because they have offended you and you haven’t forgiven
them. Naaman was offended at Elisha, but what was the real cause of
Naaman’s offense? Listen to his words. He said, "Behold, I thought, ‘He
will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord
his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper’" (v. 11).
the phrase, "Behold, I thought . . ." In truth, Naaman was not offended
by Elisha but by his own failed expectations. He probably spent many
hours envisioning the moment of his healing. He even pictured himself
testifying of how the man of God healed him. When it didn’t happen
according to his plan, he was offended.
the Lord heals you or assigns you some new, elevated position of
service, He will often offend you. Why? What is it that gets offended in
us? Usually it is our pride. We come to God desiring physical healing,
but the Lord wants us not only to be healed but to be humble. Yes, God
heals us through our faith, but there our times when our own pride keeps
us from receiving the method of God’s healing. The Lord offends us to
humble us so He can give us grace. Faith works through grace, but God
only gives grace to the humble.
Look at how often Jesus
offended people before He healed them. Once, He actually spit on the
ground, made mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes, and then told him to
walk across town that way! Imagine if you were next in the healing line
and saw what the guy before you had to do. Admit it, we each would be
looking for another healing ministry, one that is a little less
offensive! On another occasion He told a woman who came seeking her
daughter’s healing that she was an unclean dog; another time He stuck
His fingers in the ears of a man to heal his deafness. The Lord often
offended people before He healed them.
If we would
learn to humble ourselves in the offense, we would discover that the
apparent offense was, in realty, a door that led into the manifest power
of God. When Jesus called the Canaanite woman a "dog," instead of being
offended, she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs"
(Matt. 15:27). When Jesus told the man to walk across town with mud in
his eyes, the man didn’t argue or ask for a more dignified healing; he
humbled himself and came back seeing. When Elisha told Naaman to dip in
the Jordan seven times, the offense wounded him. Yet when he humbled
himself, his leprosy was replaced with the skin of a little child. His
skin became as a child because his heart, through humility, became as a
Maybe you haven’t received your healing or
breakthrough yet because to walk the path set before you is beneath your
dignity. Maybe you need to get rid of your dignity and go to that
Pentecostal or Baptist church you’ve been making fun of, then ask them
to pray for you. God wants to heal you, but He also wants to renew and
transform you with His grace.
we study what Jesus taught, it is obvious that He came to make us
"unoffendable." Consider: He says that if someone slaps you on one
cheek, offer him the other. He said to love our enemies and bless those
who curse us. What He’s really doing is showing us how an unoffendable
heart of love overcomes all adversity.
We pray, "Lord, I
want to change." To answer our prayer, He sometimes must put us in
situations that perfectly offend us. The offense itself awakens our need
of grace. Thus, the Lord precipitates change by first offending the
area of our soul He desires to transform. He does not expect us to
merely survive this adversity but to become Christlike in it. Ask
Joseph in the Old Testament: the "land of offense" became the land of
his anointing and power. Listen my friends: the destiny God has for man
unfolds or dies at the junction of offense. How we handle offense is the
key to our tomorrow.
"Those who love [God’s] law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble" (Ps. 119:165).
grant me that new creation heart that can walk as Jesus walked, through
a world of offenses without stumbling. I want to see everything as an
opportunity to pray, everything as an opportunity to become Christlike.
Lord help me to interpret offenses as opportunities that lead to
transformations. Grant me, Lord Jesus, the pulse and beat of Your
unoffendable heart. Amen.
Adapted from a chapter in Francis Frangipane's book A House United, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.