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"Taking Offense is Often Caused by Idolatry in Our Lives

 November 2010 

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Because of the Word of God and my own observation, I believe that when we take offense with people, it is usually because of the idolatry in our lives.

Let me explain why I have come to this conclusion: People always eventually let us down, and when our trust is in them instead of the Lord, our feelings get hurt. We can feel betrayed or rejected and take offense.

Whenever we put people, material possessions or anything else before God, they become like other gods in our lives. When we covet the affirmation and honour of people more than God's approval, that coveting becomes an idol in our lives. In Colossians 3:5 it says that covetousness is idolatry.

When Jesus becomes the greatest joy in our lives, our focus shifts from concerns about what people think of us to what He thinks of us. No longer are we unduly concerned about what other people say about us or do to us because Jesus is the God we worship. When our focus is on the Lord, we are no longer ''touchy'' or easily offended.

Years ago when I was a pastor, I was very focused on growing successful churches. This is a worthy goal, but in retrospect, I can see that I often took offense far too easily. If people criticised me I would feel offended, even if the criticism was valid. I came to realise that I was often more concerned about being a successful pastor than in getting to know the Lord in an intimate way. Being a successful pastor was like an idol in my life.

I still struggle with not taking offense with people. I have to keep reminding myself that if a criticism is valid, then I need to change my way. If I am unjustly criticised, then I know the Lord has allowed such criticism for my ultimate good.

Over the years we have seen devastation caused in many Christian lives through taking offense. Many years ago, Kathy and I were friends with an elderly couple. The wife, who in many ways was a good woman, had taken offense with a church over 30 years earlier. She had kept a letter that the elders of a church had sent her about missing church services. At the time she was under stress with young children. Thirty years later, she was still showing people this letter and stating that this letter was the reason she would not attend church with her husband. If only that woman could have made Jesus her greatest joy, then she would have been able to overcome this hurt in her life.

Over the past few weeks, our family have been having Quiet Times from 1st Samuel. Saul's taking offense with David was a major factor in ruining his life.

In 1 Samuel 18:6-9, it says this:

When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang:

''Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.''

Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. ''They have credited David with tens of thousands,'' he thought, ''but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?'' And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David.

It appears that for much of Saul's life he was coveting the approval and honour of people and when he didn't get it, he took offense. Unlike David, Saul did not make God his greatest joy.

As a family we are trying to make God our greatest joy. We are far from perfect, but we are increasingly trying to not take offense with each other or anyone else. We want Jesus to be the only God in our lives.

Family News

We are thrilled that Joseph & Rebecca are expecting a baby at the end of March. This baby will be our first grandchild and Jeremy, Matthew & Isaac will be uncles and Priscilla an Aunty.

On Sunday 21st November, Grandma turned 96. After church we travelled to Auckland and had a lovely time celebrating her birthday with her and other family members. Grandma is a great blessing to our family. She regularly prays for our family and her other family members. Whenever she comes to stay, she joins in our family sharing time.

For Christmas this year, rather than buying expensive presents for each other, we will be giving to Tear Fund. Their website is: http://www.giftforlife.co.nz/gift/

Below is a picture from their website:

See giftforlife.co.nz/gifts

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