No Offense, But…

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Have you noticed how easily we get offended?

Honestly, it doesn’t take much. It offends us if the person in the car in front of us drives too slow. Or when the service at a restaurant doesn’t meet our expectations. We even take offense when someone looks at us the wrong way—or doesn’t look at us at all.

Every day we allow grievances to snatch away our peace. Then when something really hurtful happens, we’re undone.

Beloved, Jesus went to the cross to rid us of offense.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of it that way before. But the power of the cross lies in forgiveness, and forgiveness takes no offense.

Jesus showed us what that looked like as He bled for us on the cross.

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

The people screaming, “Crucify Him!” weren’t sorry. They hadn’t apologized. It wasn’t even over. They shouted insults while He bled for them. They celebrated His agony while He struggled to gasp out the words, “Father, forgive them.”

The love released through that act of forgiveness shook the earth and tore the veil. It crumbled the barrier that separated man from God. And it conquered sin and death in man’s heart so love and life could flow in its place—love that empowers, love that redeems, love that transforms and heals.

When we choose offense, we submit to the spirit of the world—of hatred—rather than the Spirit of love Christ poured out. We choose our sin nature instead of Christ’s nature. Jesus always forgives.

1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us love does not insist on its own way, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Hatred keeps that record, dear one. It remembers every offense.

Can you see why God compels us to forgive, dear one? God is love, and love covers all offenses (Proverbs 10:12).

Beloved, you and I have been empowered by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to live driven by Christ’s love rather than sin’s hate. We’ve been given a new nature—Christ’s nature—and that nature offers the power to dramatically change our present circumstances. When walking in that nature, we enjoy the beautiful fruit the Holy Spirit provides.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you love to live each day feeling your heart swell with love and bubble over with joy? Wouldn’t you love the peace of God to wash away your anxiety and worry? Don’t you long to find yourself empowered to patience instead of blowing up at the people you love?

Unfortunately, that isn’t where most of us live. Instead, we far more readily give in to our flesh, spending much of our days tied up in knots, feeling frustrated, angry, depressed, and overcome by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Our families end up baring the brunt of our misery.

What are we missing? Perhaps Matthew 6:14-15 will shed some light on the root of our struggle.

“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Powerful words. Jesus said if I refuse to forgive others, God won’t forgive me. Let’s put it another way. If I refuse to release others, God doesn’t release me.

No wonder so many of us feel stuck.

Taking offense and harboring bitterness in your heart will keep you from experiencing the grace of forgiveness in your own life. That means the power God offers through forgiveness gets held back, and you feel the weight of the offense you carry.

You may have noticed. Offense imprisons you in darkness.

Dear one, God’s command to forgive those who offend us isn’t about letting them off the hook. It’s about allowing God’s power to continue to flow into our lives. Bitterness blocks the flow of His love, and love empowers everything God does.

You and I don’t deserve forgiveness, dear one. We’re guilty. But Jesus offers it anyway and asks us to receive it by faith.

Yet we struggle to extend that grace others. We want people to earn it. And we won’t offer forgiveness freely because whoever hurt us doesn’t deserve it.

I won’t argue with you. Nobody really deserves forgiveness. The very fact that we need to extend it means that a wrong has taken place.

But God’s not asking us to let people off the hook when He asks us to forgive them. He’s asking us to let Him bear the burden. He’s asking us to trust His promise in Exodus 14:14,

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (NIV)

When we trust God to keep His Word and surrender our bitterness, a beautiful thing happens. He moves on our behalf. And trusting Him accesses the grace of God to provide the fruit of the Spirit in us. Love replaces anger. Joy replaces bitterness. Peace overshadows strife.

Forgive, dear one, so you can be forgiven. Release your captors so that you can live free.

Don’t Starve with Food in Front of You

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field. Lamentations 4:9

I spent Sunday afternoon walking amid billowing flags. Each flag bore a name—and a story. They represented the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

I find it difficult to describe the feeling. I stood before a seemingly endless display. 3000 flags simultaneously representing life and death. Joyful memories. Devastating anguish.

The mind battles to accept the magnitude of it. We weep for the families suddenly ripped apart in one, single terror-filled day.

But God whispered something into my heart as I stood in that sea of red, white, and blue.

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field.

We waste away, beloved. God’s children and the lost He sends us to. We starve rather than thrive because the fruit meant to nurture and sustain us has depleted.

And according to God’s Word, we’re better off dying quickly at the hand of another than wasting away slowly and painfully, starving for fruit.

Perhaps you know the starvation I’m talking about. You feel empty. Alone. But you can’t really explain why. You struggle to find joy, even when something good happens to you. In fact, if you’re honest, you really haven’t felt happy in a long time. You have much in your life you should be thankful for, yet you don’t feel grateful. Something looms before you unattained, and the weight of it feels heavy. Too heavy. You feel overwhelmed, and you don’t know how you’re going to make it.

Can you relate to any of those feelings, dear one? They point to the absence of fruit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

God created us to bear fruit in His image, beloved, to fill the earth with all that He is (Genesis 1:27-28). Man has filled the earth, but we don’t reflect the image of our Creator. Instead, we more closely resemble His enemy. Sin’s seed implanted in man’s heart has changed our fruit.

Love has become selfishness that breeds hate.

Sorrow overtook our joy.

Instead of peace, we naturally worry.

Instead of patience, anger erupts.

In place of kindness, we hurt people.

Evil has overrun goodness.

Faithfulness withers into doubt.

Harshness crushes gentleness.

Self-control is all but lost.

God’s image on earth has become overshadowed by the image of the evil one. And all humanity wastes away, starving without proper fruit.

Happier were the victims of the sword than the victims of hunger, who wasted away, pierced by lack of the fruits of the field.

God wants to change that, beloved. Jesus went to the cross to make us fruit bearers.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” John 15:16-17

Dear one, Jesus died to restore us to God’s image, equipping us to fulfill our original purpose. He calls His church to rise in the power of the cross, putting sin to death and allowing His Spirit to reunite us with our Creator. Fully. Completely. So that His fruit may come forth in us and the earth can flourish with His life.

But instead of rising in the cross’s power, we exalt the power of sin. We proclaim its strength over our inadequacy. We justify its presence in us, giving life to what Christ put to death.

Why do we exalt sin's power? The cross conquered sin. Don't give life to what Jesus put to death. Click To Tweet

Perhaps we should read what God says about us.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Jesus gave us His own divine nature, dear one. The nails that held Him on that cross also crucified our sin there. Sin has been defeated, rendered powerless.

I sense the question rising. Then why do believers still sin?

Because we do not yet believe we’re who scripture says we are. We still see ourselves in our fallen state. 2 Corinthians 3:18 holds the key to our sanctification.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Experiencing the power of the Gospel comes down to one simple choice: opening the Word to see God as He truly is. When we behold God in truth and believe, the Spirit within us transforms us bit by bit into the image that we see. Why? Because everything God is, you now are. And as you receive the truth of your new nature into your heart, the Spirit waters that new seed giving it life, and fruit bursts forth.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Psalm 1:1-3

Oh, beloved. Let God show you who you are. People are starving. They need fruit.

How You Are Affecting the Headlines

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Luke 6:33

“Don’t hate evil more than you love good.”

I read those words in a Facebook post a few days after the Dallas shootings. A police officer had posted a heartwarming story of a woman and her little boy who approached him to thank him for his service and pray for his safety. He shared how the kind gesture had touched him deeply and ended his post with this advice.

Don’t hate evil more than you love good.

The statement is simple, yet profound. Perhaps you should take a moment to contemplate it.

Don’t hate evil more than you love good. Click To Tweet

Most of us would readily agree that we hate evil. We see its handiwork unfolding before us, getting much nearer than we ever anticipated it could. And far too many have personally felt the agony of its reach.

And we stand appalled, as we should.

We hate evil.

But hating evil does nothing to stop its movement. The real problem—the reason evil’s reach continues to expand— is that the people of God haven’t embraced loving good.

Don’t get me wrong. We like the idea of good. And we certainly like to think of ourselves as good people. But we rarely take the opportunity to release some good into someone else’s life.

We may think about it, but we don’t often do it.

Hear my heart, beloved. A great chasm exists between hating evil and loving good, and if we‘re honest, we’d have to admit that most of us dwell there.

It has a name.


And when we float along in the sea of complacency, nothing changes. Evil continues to harm.

Yet we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re doing our part, because we hate evil. So we voice our outrage. We join the ranks of those casting blame. We shake our heads in disgust at those who do violence. We accuse.

But that’s all we do. And our anger over the evil we hate only swells its tide, feeding its wrath and giving it strength.

Because hatred itself was born out of evil.

Beloved, only something contrary to its nature can overcome it. If we want to see evil defeated, you and I need to embrace God’s command in Romans 12:21.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Only good holds the power to stop evil, dear one. Simply hating evil won’t overcome it. Evil will suffer defeat when God’s children begin to take on His nature and express His goodness. We must learn to love good more than we hate evil.

How? By giving of ourselves.

By taking time to stop and pray with someone in the middle of our busy day instead of simply saying we will. Or blessing a stranger by paying for their meal in a restaurant or offering help when we see them struggle. We love good when we send an encouragement to a hurting neighbor or make them a hot meal.

Goodness—the nature and character of God—released into the world around us will begin to diminish the enemy’s power at work in our midst. We overcome evil with good.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said in Matthew 7:19,

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Failing to produce good fruit is useless. Anything else only feeds evil. Expressing love is our answer. Giving of ourselves even when it’s not comfortable. Because love is never about what we say, it’s always about what we do.

 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

This generation cries out for hope. People long to know and believe that the evil rising in our midst won’t win. You and I hold the means to prove it. The Spirit of God who only gives good gifts (James 1:17) dwells within us. Let’s let Him loose!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Beloved, the tide of evil will only diminish when we begin to love good more than we hate evil. When our actions—not just our thoughts—begin to release goodness and love into the world.

I’m game. Are you?