How do you tend to respond to offenses? Hurts are real. Scars happen. Jesus did not come to give us moral tips for living. Sometimes it is right to be wronged. (Matthew 24:10-12; Proverbs 19:11; Ephesians 4:32; Romans 9:32-33)

Speaker: Joe Duke
Sermon 12712
Date: 2024-05-05
Time: Sun 11:00 am

P. Joe Duke –

Yeah, you guys can sit down if you want to. Well, thank you, P. Steve. I’m just delighted to be here with you.
When P. Tom told me he would be out of the country and invited me to come and speak, I
thought, wow! You know when the head guy is away, we could do anything here today, can
we? I’m just teasing!

And I think you know Tom and I met. We were both speakers at a grace conference actually
about half a year ago, and I think I just need to say I’m sorry it took this long cuz I’m not that
far away for us to get together. This is an incredible ministry, and God is doing profound things
through you. So, this is just amazing and I’m happy to be here with you.

So, years ago, I was preparing to launch a series on the book of James. Anybody read the book
of James? Awesome book. The theme, one of the themes that you see in that book is that we
are to count it all joy when you face trials of many kinds knowing that the testing of your faith
produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work that you may be mature and
complete, lacking nothing. Now, from the casual outsider looking in at that, that just doesn’t
make sense. We are to rejoice in trials? What in the world is that all about?

And at the same time, my wife and I were looking for a replacement dining room table, so we
decided we would go on, you know, all kinds of Facebook Marketplace. We’d go on Craigslist.
We’d go on whatever. So, it turns out we were in a neighborhood and we came by this garage
sale and there it was. Wow! Beautiful. You know, mahogany inlaid pedestal table and the chairs
came with it.

So, we haggled a little bit and we said, we’ll take it. So, I had to take the table apart. Turned it
upside down. We had a van at the time. Put all the seats down and did this kind of thing, you
know. Got it in there and I thought, wow! This is awesome.

And so, we made it home and opened the door and I started the wiggling process. Pulled it out.
Stood it straight up and realized I had carved the deepest gash across the entire table front!
Rejoice in trials my hind leg! That wasn’t my instinct at first. No, it wasn’t.

So, I find that God has created a pattern in my life over the years. That’s essentially – hey, when
I stand up to talk about something, I’m going to have you live it, God says, so that you’re not
just talking theoretically. You’re talking like, okay. You’ve lived this. Not just practice what you
preach. Preach what you practice, right? Kind of works that way.

And so, today’s topic is really no exception. Because the testing of your faith produces
endurance we’re told. We can be tested in lots of different ways and one test comes when
we’re offended. Offended. And I want to talk to you about that this morning. More specifically,
I want to talk to you today about whether or not it’s possible for you and for me to be unoffendable. Unoffendable. Yeah. Some of you are ready to go home already. You’re done,
right? No.

So, I’ve been offended before. I suspect you have, too, haven’t you? God tells us a lot about
offenses. Some of you can recall those offenses. So, one day Jesus and his disciples were sitting
on the edge of the Mount of Olives. They had just come through the city of Jerusalem. And
Jesus was making comments about the stones that they see in the temple and you know, one
day there’s not a stone that’s going to be standing on top of itself Jesus said. And so, the
disciples I’m sure peak their curiosity about the end of the age. And they asked him, so Jesus,
what will the end of the age be like?

And here’s his response. We’re going to start today in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 24. Let me
start at vs. 10. It’s on the screens if you want to take a look. Vs. 10. Many will be – what’s the
word? Offended. Vs. 10-12. Now, notice what’s going on here. There’s a vulnerability to lies.
There’s a temptation to trust in that which is false. And notice the relational chaos in these
verses. And it’s initiated by being offended. Jesus says many will be offended. Many will betray
one another he says.

The Greek word for offended here is SKANDALO. The verb, the noun is SKANDALON and it
means to turn away or stumble. It may sound familiar to you because our English words come
from the scandalize or scandal fact.

So, think about your interaction with people. Your relationships. We’ve all be offended in one
way or another. If we said, hey, for the rest of the service today we’re going to have an open
mic and anybody that wants to come up and talk about how you’ve been offended, friends,
we’d be here a couple of weeks at least. I know, right? Because every one of us has been
offended. Every one of us has had those things in our lives where we just thought, wow! I wish
this had never happened, right? Maybe it was careless words or hostile actions from someone
or cruel intentions.

Some of you are thinking right now, some of you had that thing or those things in your life and
some people seem to be offended by almost anything. You ever notice that? This is the day and
age we live in. Everybody’s easily offended. The current derogatory term is “snowflake.” Have
you heard this? It’s a slang term for a person who has an inflated sense of being special or being
unique. And they’re easily offended or they melt away under evaluation or criticism.

Now, let’s just cut right to the chase and let me ask today’s questions. How do you tend to
respond to offenses? How do you tend to respond to offenses? Now, of course, you’re thinking
well it depends. I get it. It depends, right? It depends on what the offense it. But how do you
tend to respond to offenses? This is no small question and I’m going to unpack it for you this
morning.

So, when we’re offended, we experience hurt, anger and often revenge. We feel hurt. We get
angry and we want revenge. Now, hurts are real. Aren’t they? Just because we’re in a church,
we don’t pretend here, right? Hurts are real. They are. They’re so real that they carve deep
gashes in the heart. Scars. Some of you are living with the scars of hurt. You can remember the
faces, the facial expressions of a person who spoke something to you. You can remember what
they were wearing. You can remember where you were standing. These, you know, videos play
over and over in our heads sometimes.

Some hurts actually reopen old wounds. You thought it was healed over and then something is
said or there’s some memory. There’s that place or there’s that song or there’s that idea and
boom! You’re right back where you were like ripping the scab off of that previous offense. “You
hurt my feelings” are words that can come from a six-year-old or a 60-year-old. We’re more apt
to hear them from a six-year-old because a sixty-year-old is too sophisticated. We’re too self-
protective. We’re not necessarily going to admit that offenses can create hurt and when we’re
offended, we might also experience anger.

For some of us, it doesn’t just stop at hurt. It morphs into anger. We just get mad. We get mad
at the offender. Angry at the person who has offended us. Have you noticed anger creates an
emotional rush? Have you ever noticed this? This is documented. Like when anger rises up in
you, there’s something slightly intoxicating about the feeling. It reminds you you’re alive. It
convinces you that you’re in control of your life and without even realizing it, we can actually
enjoy anger.

Now, I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about all those other people. Okay. You can actually
enjoy anger because it makes us feel alive. C. S. Lewis refers to anger as “the anesthetic of the
mind.” “It fumes away our grief” he says. I like the way Dallas Willard says it. “There’s nothing
that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.”

So, anger is epidemic in our culture. It’s all over social media no doubt. Just take a break, will
ya? It’s in your work environment. Maybe even in your family, extended family. Anger is
everywhere. We’re a polarized country on so many levels. It’s epidemic. And we’ve grossly
underestimated the destructive influence of anger. We’ve convinced ourselves that somehow
anger is just this innocent thing that everybody gets made. We’re all human, right? And we
haven’t understood how deep it actually goes Anger hovers over society.

So, notice the progression into the darkness when we’re offended. When we’re offended, we
experience hurt which can morph into anger which can lead to revenge. That’s what can
happen. Have you ever wanted revenge? Sure, you have. I have, too.

So, movies remind us that revenge can be just below the surface in our lives. Have you noticed
this? Inside of each of us. So, movie makers, you know, develop the character in the movie. The
guy that you just, oh, I don’t like this guy already. And through the whole movie, they build this
guy’s character into this guy that you just love to hate. And then at, toward the end of the
movie, that bad guy gets it and what happens inside of you? If you’re like me you go, yes! In
fact, I’ve been in movie theaters before where when the bad guy gets it, the entire movie
theater erupts into an applause.

Now, what that’s about? I’ll tell you what it’s about. We need counseling, friends. We do.
Because we have just lapsed into that whole idea and that treadmill of revenge. But my revenge
is respectable because I’m a pastor. I’ve been offended hundreds of times over many, many
years in the ministry. I’d like to think I’m growing in love. Some days are better than others and
sometimes I get too offended and it’s like a switch gets flipped in me. In other words, if you, if
you come at me, then there’s something that when I just get pushed and pushed and pushed,
you know I might, I might just give it back to you. I’m not proud of it. It’s just the way it is.

I remember years ago, I received an email from a guy in our church who immediately when I
opened this email. I mean I’m two sentences into it and he’s attacking me here. He’s attacking
me here. He’s attacking me here and I’m reading this email and I’m just feeling something
inside of me. You ever had something like that happen?

And so, I did what any self-respecting person would do, I began to write a reply email. And I
started typing. Point by point. Let me tell you where you’re wrong. Let me tell you what. Let me
tell you this. And I’m going along. I’m going along. Man , this is, this is really good. I’m like, this
is brilliant! I think I’ll just keep going and I copied the elders, the elders of our church on this.
And I push, send. Boom! Yeah. You’re saying that because you’ve done it. I know. I know, right.
And so the next elder meeting, we’re sitting around together and the guy said, hey. We got
your email and we think you, we think you need to apologize to the guy. Well, I didn’t that one
coming, but they were right.

So, this guy and I got together and is said, hey. I never should have sent that email and he said,
well, I’m sorry too for those things that I said. And we agreed to forgive each other and move
on with that. But look. True confession. It still felt good to write that email, because there’s
something inside of me that appeals to that kind of thing.

So usually, I’m no longer looking for revenge. I’d like to think I’m growing. By the way, you know
pastors aren’t perfect, right? Just checking. Okay. We got room to grow. And I’ve got room to
grow and so I’m no longer looking for revenge. I’m no longer telling people, you know,
revengeful things like, I don’t know, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits!
Some of you, I just lost you for the rest of the message right there. That’s all you get. What is
that guy talking about? Something about fleas and armpits. I don’t know what it was. You understand. You choose your whatever your curse could be that could be mine. So, be
forewarned, okay? Listen to what Jesus says.

And this is how Jesus unrolls this whole thing and I just – man, if you don’t get anything else
today, come away with this. Jesus came not to give us moral tips for a better life. Some of us
just need to sit in that for a minute. That’s what the Bible calls law. Yeah, all right. Jesus didn’t
come just to give us moral tips for a better life but instead to radically upend our way of life. To
turn over the tables of respectable religion. Amen. Halleluiah! Don’t miss his words. I mean you
want a little to be slapped around by Jesus a little bit, listen to what he says. Matthew 5:44. Are you
kidding me, Jesus? Of all people, those of us who follow Jesus should be confidently and
refreshingly unoffendable.

You know this. To live unoffended means to take on a kind of glory. I mean, literally it’s
something that goes beyond you and me. Whenever we’re talking about a behavioral change in
life as a believer in Jesus, we’re not talking about mustering up personal strength. We’re talking
about alongside the power of the Holy Spirit. See. Jesus doesn’t come along and say, I want you
to live like this. I want you to do this without also resourcing us to do that. Amen.

And he’s given us his Word. He’s given us the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower us. To do the
things that Jesus says to do because otherwise the message like this makes no sense. We all
come away going, you’re kidding me. But with the power of God, it’s possible to live
unoffended means we take on a kind of glory.

Proverbs 19:11 says this. A person’s wisdom makes him slow to anger and it is his glory to
overlook an offense. What? You see there is a kind of glory associated when we live like this.
When we choose to align ourselves with the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. When we choose to
be unoffendable, our life takes on a kind of glory. How do we look, overlook an offense? How
do, how do you and I become unoffendable?

Now, I think God wants to help us through his indwelling Holy Spirit as I mentioned. And so, I
want to offer three practical reminders about overcoming offenses and how we can move
toward become unoffendable.

Here’s the first one. You ready? Move from pathetic to empathetic. Here’s what I mean by that.
As quickly as possible, move from wallowing in self-pity and victimization. Move from labeling
yourself as the victim. Oh, poor me. Look what happened to me. And ask – are you ready? – ask
what it’s like to be the other person. You see, person’s circumstances don’t excuse their
offenses. That’s not at all what I’m saying.

But a person’s circumstances can help explain it, can’t they? Often people offend others
because they’re broken or they’re fearful or they’re wounded. You know how psychologists say it, right? Hurt people hurt people. And some people are carrying along a pack of stuff on their
backs that you may not know anything about. In fact, that happens here, too. It happens in
churches all over the world.

That’s why when you come into an environment like this, please
take a few minutes before and after and during. You don’t know what the person sitting next to
you is carrying. You don’t know what they’re going through and it’s a burden none of us were
meant to carry alone. Often people offend others because they’re broken or they’re fearful or
they’re wounded. Hurt people hurt people.

Now, the golden rule is not do unto others before they do unto you. The golden rule is do unto
others as you would have them do unto you. Empathy says I’m willing to feel what it’s like to be
you. I’m moving from my self-absorbed victimization and now I’m going to step into your world.
I’m going to at least wonder. At least ask, what are you going through? What is it like to be you?
Empathy helps you become unoffendable.

By the way, empathy is one of the secrets to this next step we’re going to talk about. Here it is.
Extend grace and forgiveness. Grace is giving someone something they don’t deserve. That’s
what grace is. And you and I have been the recipients of that through the person of Jesus
Christ. Grace then for the believer in the life of another person means we extend grace. It’s
undeserved.

Now, hanging on the cross, nails through his hands, his feet, a crown of thorns on his head;
Jesus utters the words of one who is unoffendable. Surrounded by a vicious mob and those who
are just, you know, railing at him. Jesus looks up to his heavenly Father and says – you know the
word, right? – forgive them, Father. They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no clue.
They don’t know what they’re doing. That’s unoffendable.

Forgiveness means to cancel the debt of another. So, if you wrong me by doing something, then
you know what? You the offender wronging me, you have created a debt. You owe me. And so
now, I have this little piece of paper that says, I owe you at the top. You gave it to me. You
offended me. And now, you owe me.

Now, you know what forgiveness does? Forgiveness takes that I.O.U. and tears it up and cancels
the debt. Forgiveness says you no longer owe me. I’m canceling the debt. Now, if you’re like
me, trouble is I have multiple copies of those I.O.U’s, right? And so, I may tear up one but I got a
few more in my wallet. So, I’ll pull it out. I need to tear that up. You know in fact I have a
theory. You check it out.

Jesus makes an astounding parallel with forgiveness when he says – the disciples are asking
him, how many times should we forgive? They’re landing on three because three is noble in
their time. And that’s when they say, seventy times seven they say. And Jesus goes on to say
essentially indefinitely. Jesus says seventy times no end to it, right? No end to it.

And I think sometimes that seventy times seven means, you know, there’s this action against
you right here and you forgive. And you make a little headway. You tore the I.O.U. up but like
me, you’re carrying another I.O.U. in your pocket.

And then like you know a couple of months later, you’re going, oh, there’s a thing back there
and so you got to tear it up again. And then maybe a couple of years go by and then something
happens. And it brings back and you go, I got to return to that how many times? Forever. Over
and over. Forgiveness. Extending grace and forgiveness.

So, here’s my story. I’ve been offensive to God. I have been given grace and forgiveness from
God. Why would I withhold grace and forgiveness from one who has offended me? Why would I
do that? It means somewhere in there I’m not anchored to the fact that I’ve been offensive.
And that God has forgiven me with his grace and mercy.

I love Ephesians 4:32. Past tense. Forgave you. So, extending grace and forgiveness helps you become
unoffendable. Now, at this date, there are probably hundreds of Bible translations out there,
right? There’s a Bible translation called the Amplified Version. It’s a fascinating idea because
what the translators have done is they, when they come across certain Greek words or Hebrew
words they want to expand, they actually add extra words. So, the Amplified Version of the
Bible feels like to me it’s about that thick, but it really isn’t. But it is about twice the size of a
regular Bible we might carry around. Why? Because they’ve added words to amplify the
meaning of various words. That’s why it’s called the Amplified version.

So, listen to Peter’s words from the Amplified Version in 1 Peter 4:8. Ready? “Above all things,
have intense and unfailing love for one another for love covers a multitude of sins.” Here comes
the amplified part. You ready? He’s about to tell us what it means. “Forgives and disregards the
offenses of others.” Wow! Yeah, that’s not just moral tips for a better life. That’s radically
upending our way of life.

And finally, becoming unoffendable also means some of you are not going to like this but I’m
only a guest speaker, remember! Sometimes it’s right to be wronged. The church at Corinth
was a messed up church. You ever read I and II Corinthians? Messed up. There were divisions.
There was sexual immorality. It was a church full of offended people. Believers were taking
each other to court because they were sideways with each other. And Paul writes in 1 Cor. 6.
He says guys, why not be wronged instead? Why not be defrauded? Why not let yourself be
offended? Why not be wronged?

Now, I get it. This feels really vulnerable, doesn’t it? I mean if you think what do you mean that
sometimes it’s right to be wronged? And I think through all of this. Jesus is saying, hey. I got you. It’s okay. I got you. Your world is not going to cave in. It’s not going to fall apart. I’m going
to help you. I’m going to be with you. Why not choose to be unoffendable.

Some years ago, I was trying to put my own words around this concept because I was sort of
growing through it and this is how I said it in my attempt to get better at this. I wrote I choose
to be unoffendable. I’m free. Free to love. Free to show grace. Free to forgive. I choose to be
unoffendable. Secure in Jesus with nothing to prove. No reputation to defend. No reason for
insecurity. I choose to be unoffendable. Alive in God’s Spirit. Comforted. Led. Empowered. I
choose to be unoffendable. A life upended. Sensibilities offended. Yes to this invitation to
absurdity. I choose to be unoffendable.

See life, life is all about relationship, so it seems fitting to conclude my talk this morning by
acknowledging the most important relationship, our relationship with Jesus Christ. Life is filled
with relationships. But don’t miss this one.

So, what’s interesting, the book of Romans is a fascinating doctrinal treatise and in chapter 9
we discover that the Gentiles were pursuing righteousness but they got it through faith. Okay.
So, you got these people, God’s chosen people. Now, God’s branched this thing out. He’s
saying, hey. I’m going to cast a wide net here and the Gentiles were actually experiencing new
life, but they weren’t doing it by pursuing righteousness. They got it through faith. And Israel
was pursuing the law of righteousness but they never got righteousness. You know why?
Righteousness doesn’t come through the law. Israel was pursuing the law but never got
righteousness.

Then, Paul continues. He picks up at vs. 32. Why? He says why didn’t Israel get it? Because they
did not seek it by faith but as it were by the works of the law for they stumbled at the stumbling
stone. Here we go. As it is written, behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and a rock of – what’s
the word? Offense. And whoever believes on him will not be put to shame. So, earlier I
mentioned the Greek word. You remember it? SKANDALON. Here it is again. This is the
description of Jesus and the Gospel. Our most important relationship is this relationship with
Jesus.

And here’s what happened. You and I are born in a predicament, a serious predicament. We’re
born separated from God, but God didn’t leave us in that state. Thank God he chose to do
something about it. He chose to make a way for you and for me to be connected to him. He
sent Jesus and Jesus becomes our sin bearer. He takes your sin and mine on himself. He dies in
our place, in our stead is what they old hymn writers used to say. And now, he offers us the free
gift of salvation simply by believing him for it. You know what that is? Scandalous. That’s a
scandal.

That’s why when many people hear that, they’re offended. They trip over the rock of offense
and instead they say, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I have to contribute. Wait a minute. I got to
do my part. Wait. I got to clean up my life. I’ve got to try to behave myself. I want to get to
heaven by saying God, look at me. I did it. Nobody ever gets to heaven by saying look how good
I was. We get to heaven through the precious blood of Christ. His sacrifice on our behalf
received by faith and faith alone he says. A rock of offense. What a scandal.

So, it seems like there’s plenty to be upset about in our world. We could fret about it all day
long. We’re not going to run out of news to be upset about. We an even get personally
offended by the actions and comments of others around us. Some of us have been keeping a
really good record. I’m going to invite you just to hold that loosely. And even when you release
all of that, guess what’s coming tomorrow? Guess what’s coming the next day? It’s a good
chance.

So, here’s a radical relational idea. What if you can become an unoffendable? That’s right.
Unoffendable. It’s rare but possible through the power of God in our lives. Through Jesus
working in us, it’s possible to deflect hurt over offenses. It’s possible to find power over anger
and bitterness. It’s possible to refuse revenge and enjoy the freedom of becoming
unoffendable. And that’s my prayer for all of us, myself included. (Prayer).