Sunday, September 23, 2012

Being Offended

     Did you know that wrong reactions to stress is one of the major causes of sickness?  The medical community now believes at least 85%--and possibly as high as 95%--of all illness is caused by our inability to handle stress.  Have you ever thought about how much it stresses our bodies when we take offense at another person?  In fact, it is one of the most common causes of stress.  The dictionary defines "an offense" as an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to, or disregard for, oneself or one's standards or principles.  It also defines "offended" as caused to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful.  How often during the day do we feel upset, annoyed, or resentful of someone because they didn't agree with us, or they didn't do something the way we wanted them to?  Some of us have become such control freaks that almost every decision made by someone else that affects our lives in any small way contrary to what we think or how we would do it irritates us.  Often we find ourselves in a struggle not to get irritated!
       We are tempted to be offended many times daily.  What better tool of the enemy than to whisper in our ears about how OUR rights are being violated, how no one cares about OUR feelings, no one takes OUR advice, or asks OUR opinion, or invites US to be part of what they're doing, or how WE have to do everything, and on and on and on.  It seems to be all about us, doesn't it?  And we're offended that others don't recognize that.  Sometimes we overcome the temptation to take offense.  Other times we yield to it and become downright angry!  If we don't recognize what we're doing and continue in that line of thinking we become bitter and have smoldering resentment!
     As I was thinking about this, the post I did on Wednesday "Let Our "Yes" Be "Yes"" came to mind.  Was it the Lord prompting me?  I suspect so.  It's true that we are to represent Christ to the best of our abilities.  I believe it is a mark against Christianity when we don't, but when I get irritated because others aren't representing Jesus the way I think they should, I am taking offense.  I can only be responsible for my actions and reactions.  I need to be sure that I am setting a good example.  We all need to, but I am beginning to see that every time I criticize, or get upset, or resentful, or disappointed at anyone else for doing something contrary to the way I think it should be done, I am sinning.  I am playing God.  I am allowing debris to settle in my soul.  Since the soul is the center of our emotions, if I allow this debris to accumulate it will cause problems in my life.  There is now proof from the scientific community that when we continue to allow wrong emotions to rule our bodies we will get sick, but even worse, our spirits will get sick.  We will lose communication with God.
      3 John 1:2 says, " Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."  But how can our souls prosper if they are filled with thoughts of grudges, resentments, bitterness, anger, etc..?  We must not allow this to happen.  Phil. 4:8-9 tells us how we can avoid this.  It says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  We will prosper in our souls when we change the way we think and react, then we will also prosper [in life] and be in health.
      To cleanse our souls we need two things.  The first one we are familiar with--the blood of Jesus.  We know that if we confess our sins and repent, we will receive forgiveness through Jesus' blood.  Then as the Bible says, we are justified--"just as if I'd" never sinned.  We are new creations.  But to remain free of sin, we also need His resurrection power given to us through the Holy Spirit living in us.  His dunamis is defined as--power to achieve by applying the abilities that are part of the Lord's nature.  We must turn to the Holy Spirit who lives in us and appropriate the power He makes available for us to keep from sinning.  Let's declare and proclaim that with His help we will no longer allow ourselves to be offended.
      I confess, Lord Jesus, that I have been quick to take offense.  It has become almost second nature for me to critique others' decisions.  Forgive me, Lord.  Please help me instead, to be quick to recognize this tendency, and to stop immediately, and ask the Holy Spirit to replace my thoughts of criticism and offense with your thoughts of love and acceptance.  I don't want to allow any thoughts to be used to create sickness in my body, or anything to stand in the way of communing with you.   I need you, Lord, more than I know.  Amen. 

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