Sunday, 28 February 2010

Offences : Stepping on Sore Toes

Offences are acts done intentionally or unintentionally to cause hurt , annoyance , provocation ; to disrupt peaceful co-existence or to break the law .
In all human relationships and societies offences are bound to happen.
Some offences are so grievous that some victims of such offences have likened the extent of the pain and hurt they suffered to that which a person would feel if someone stamped with his foot , hard , on the corns and bunions of their toes! Or the pain felt if someone slammed a hammer on a finger with a throbbing whit low!
Many people do not forget the humiliation they suffered when they were "down" and then someone, instead of helping to pull them up; kicked them hard, over and over again !
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Offending God and fellow men is not a new phenomenon; for offences are as old as when the first man , Adam , walked on the earth.
This write-up is about offences committed against us and how we should react to them.
As it was in the beginning (Genesis 6:5,6 ) so it is now and even worse, in these last days.(2 Timothy 3:1-17)
What does the Word of God say should be our reactions to these offences?
How do Christians survive in the midst of diverse offences in these perilous times?
How do we navigate the murky waters towards out goal; without sinking and without missing the mark?
"Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offences cometh!" Matthew 18:7.
The Lord is saying offenders and their offences ; at certain times in our lives , will come our way and he decrees "WOE" unto them.
In this world , there are men, women and even children whom the enemy would use to offend and to grieve the Believer ; even to the extent of derailing one from the Faith.
May we never have a portion in the woe which our God has reserved for them! . Amen.
These offences and offenders could come from the "world" and from even the most unexpected sources like from our families , close friends and even from within the Church.
"The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it ? Jeremiah 17:9

God is not going to hold us accountable for the sins of these offenders. Or for the way they have chosen to live their lives.
But he will hold us accountable to Him for our reactions to these offences.
Moses , a man after God's heart , who spoke with God face to face; was harassed and grieved by his people , the Israelites.
He reacted violently in anger and frustration ; to the extent of offending God.Numbers 20:1-13.
This resulted to Moses missing his blessing and losing the glory of leading Israel into the Promised land. Deuteronomy 32:48-52.
Another man of God , Joshua , got the glory of Moses' forty years of hard labour!
May God deliver us from the workers of iniquity who would make us offend God and thereby derail our destinies. Amen
Even when persons have committed deliberate offences against Christians, they expect to be tolerated and forgiven by Christians .
Given half the chance , if people knew you were a professing Christian , some people would step on and grind hard on your sore toes, deliberately , just to see and hear your reaction!
We see and hear of people saying and doing things against Christians and Ministers of the Gospel; which they would not dare say or do to unbelievers.
Church leaders and committed Christians ; are seen by the world as " soft touch or easy meat"; for bullying , cheating and as easy targets for abuse and for physical and verbal attacks.
If you knew that if you slapped some one's face or defrauded them of large sums of money; that man or woman would pull a gun and shoot you first before asking you "why?"; you would think twice before going near them with your offences!
Many would take advantage of the meek and gentle Christian; believing that ALL Christians would surely turn the other cheek and say "Father, forgive them...!"
But not all Christians can be slapped around by just anybody . There are Christians who would give as much as they have received!
If you , a Christian, got angry and protested, your offenders would wonder why you were displaying anger!
"Oh! Come and see this so-called Christian! So ? You are angry and you wanna fight; yet you call yourself a " born-again " Christian? Yet you people go about preaching. Come and see hypocrisy from church people!".
Those who have offended you and expected no reaction from you , would then remember to quote Bible passages. They would remind you to display "the meekness of a lamb being led to the slaughter" . LIKE Jesus Christ did !
Trouble-makers would love to shout about "forgiveness" and "turning the other cheek"!
One never ceases to be amazed that persons who conveniently forgot and disregarded what the Bible says about offending others ; would suddenly remember what that same Holy Bible says about "forgiveness , love and peace "!!
Where did such accusers HIDE their Bibles before committing offences against others?

Some times we feel "hard done by" and very bitter about the way people have treated us ; repaying our love and kindness with treachery and hatred.
No one can predict where , how and when these offences which try the soul could spring up and that confirms the word in 1 Peter 5: 8:"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil,as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
In our search for our daily bread , we could encounter challenges by falling prey to con men and women ; all kinds of dupes and fraudsters; offering us " fantastic business opportunities!"
Liars and fraudsters abound everywhere , even in the church.
The same evils and bad attitudes found outside the Church , are also rampant in the Church. No difference.
In some churches, because of what goes on there, people wonder whether they are in an office hall , in a clubhouse, in the market place or inside a church !
"For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you as it is written". Romans 2:24,
The reward for your kindness, generosity and hospitality to your family and friends could be quarrelling, insults , false accusations and hatred from them !
Some people have vowed never to allow any guests into their homes because of offences committed by previous guests.
Offences have caused serious rifts between friends .
There are women who have vowed never to get involved with any female friends or join any Women Groups;in or outside the Church , ever again!
Many people have adopted a "no mercy , no lending of money to anyone" policy.

Some Christians have been deceived, used and dumped by politicians ,who they had trusted, campaigned with and voted for; as people who would go into government offices to "make the difference".
Before winning elections, these "Christian candidates" made lengthy, sweet promises: to turn the country and their communities into "El-Dorado"; to "eradicate poverty and mosquitoes; to give free this , free that to "my people"!
Before being elected ,they had sounded so convincing as God- fearing "Christian" men and women of integrity; "Liberators of the suffering and down-trodden masses ".
Only for them to get into top government positions and thereafter, commit even worse atrocities than their predecessors whom they had criticised and condemned !
The only poverty and mosquitoes they have eradicated, so far, are the ones in their own lives and in their immediate and extended families!

In love relationships and marriages ; there are offences galore!
People fall in love and get married , hoping and believing for a peaceful home.
But soon after,offences, bitterness and unforgiveness set in.
Are you deeply wounded because the "love of your life" has come out in his true colours; after using your marriage certificate to get what he wanted ; that is a foreign passport and work permit papers? Worse still,he has gone into hiding because you have discovered the truth that he had a wife or wives with six children in his country before marrying you and he had been sending money to them , regularly; for the past 3 years, while married to you !
Or maybe your "honey and sweetheart" has duped you of your life savings; has sold your house and valuables or has attempted to sell them?
A man of God in London, warned wives, recently , that they should stop writing prayer requests for him to pray that God should make their husbands leave their marriages and never look back ! Or requesting that God should stop their husbands who had left , from ever thinking of returning to the marriage!
The Pastor said they should stop it because God cannot answer such prayers!
One of such women said despite the fact that he earns a very good salary, her husband had abandoned the care of their four children and payment of all the household bills to her on her meagre salary.
Her complaints and pleas and counsel from their pastor to her husband about his attitude , have fallen on deaf ears.
Her husband told her she should stop complaining and be grateful to God that she even had a husband who is her "crown and her covering" . He told her " as a woman , without a husband you have no crown,no covering , no respect and you are nothing!"
She looked at her self, from head to toe and she couldn't see any "crown or covering" ,whatsoever; from him to her!
She believes God will answer her request and she has vowed to keep praying until he leaves; because as a Christian , she didn't want to report him to the Child Support Agency and Social Services or invite the police to walk him and his wonderful "crown and covering" of sorrow and shame, out of the house!

Whilst doing the work of an evangelist in the U.K., I have encountered people who "don't do God" who tell me that they have decided to keep the Church at arm's length because they are perplexed and offended by what the Church stands for.
They say they cannot see the usefulness and relevance of the Church or any of the other religions and their places of worship in human lives!
Many Christians have been asked similar questions.
One said he has been told by a number of people that if they had their way, they would lock up every church , mosque and Sikh ,Hindu and Buddhist temple in the U.K. and throw their keys away!
I have been asked why is it that those countries which profess to be very religious and very holy and prayerful; ( some of these countries even have "religious police"!); are the countries with the highest level of injustice , corruption, massive human sufferings , oppressions against women and children ,lawlessness, wickedness, crime and poverty; in the whole world?
Also ,people are offended and ask why there is excruciating poverty and challenges in the lives of the majority of church members when compared to the lives of affluence and opulence enjoyed by many church leaders and their cronies ?
Why , they ask should thousands of people allow a few men and women to fed fat on them; all in the name of religion?
Some see the Church as a huge financial drain and burden and a waste of time and space. With no commensurate benefits in people's lives.
Millions of devoted Christians return home after attending churches to homes without any food , money or the basic comforts of life!
In some countries in the world , the only time and place where people see and enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply and running tap water are when they are in churches which have electricity and tap water from generating plants.
My answer to all these questions is that where ever there is massive Gospel revival , the Devil unleashes his hordes of demons from Hell against the people there ; to quench the fire of the Gospel, to cause serious problems in the lives of Believers living there; to weaken their faith and to weaken and destroy those nations.
Nevertheless , Satan has failed and he remains a defeated foe of the Church. Despite all these challenges from the Enemy of the Gospel, by the grace of God ;the Church is marching on!
Come rain , sunshine , tsunami, snow , tornado or earthquake; Christians will keep on attending Church, they will keep on supporting and giving to the work of the Gospel and believing God for a better today and a glorious future which our God has promised us! If this is not the evidence of FAITH ,prevailing faith of the Believers ; then what is it?
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by their testimony; and they love not their lives unto the death". Revelation 12:11

Wherever or however offences come , they are temptations which would try the patience of any "Job". But, whatever the degree of offences , God's commandment is that we must forgive even as we have been forgiven by Him. Matthew 6:12,14,15.
Forgiving offences against us should NOT be dependent on the repentance of the offender. Forgiveness must depend on our relationship with God as his children.
It is for OUR OWN GOOD that we forgive those who have deceitfully used us.
Forgiveness ,without the help of Holy Spirit ,is a hard thing to do .
It is a Divine attribute and it is a higher calling from our God.
For us , there is power, blessings and glory in forgiveness.
May we receive grace to forgive , today and always.Amen.
I was teaching " Forgiveness" in Sunday School some years ago. The text was taken from Matthew 18:21-35.
After the teaching, one of the listeners asked me why God has not forgiven Satan, patted him on his back, embraced him and restored Satan to his former position in Heaven?
I have answered that question in my next blog which is Forgiveness: The Path of Wisdom.
Remain blessed!
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