How to Deal with Offense: Your Questions on My Latest Sermon Answered

NOTE: This is a reprint of a post from the Kris Vallotton's website. Kris is a member on staff at Bethel Church in Redding, California. I share his posts here because I am always amazed at the insights the Lord gives him.

 

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The Road to Lost Innocence

I am deeply concerned by the offense that I see boiling over in the hearts of the Church today! In the midst of these tumultuous times, I feel it is extremely important to lay down our offenses, examine our hearts, and protect our innocence. It can be easy to take on bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness when our world is divided, personal opinions are loud, and the stakes feel high. Yet I’d propose that the Lord is asking us to protect our innocence and purify our hearts.

Because this has been weighing heavily on my heart, I recently shared a message with Bethel Church on a Sunday morning in regards to protecting our innocence and guarding our hearts from offense. It’s important to note that the message I shared was just as much for me as it was for everyone. As I opened my Bible that morning and began to preach the Word you could feel the relevance of the word settle into people’s hearts as the Holy Spirit ministered across the room.

There is not just one road that leads to the fast track of a virtueless life. Small pit stops in arrogance, entitlement, offense, bitterness, disillusionment, unforgiveness, lack of gratitude, and self-will are pathways to the pitfall of lost innocence. We see this in the life of David, starting in 2 Samuel 11.

We are pulled into the heated and pinnacle moment in King David’s life in 2 Samuel 11; the beloved king is faced with the temptation of a beautiful woman while at war with his enemies. In a fleeting moment David commits adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his greatest men. When David found out Bathsheba was pregnant with his child, the reality that faced him and the shame that plagued him sent him scrambling to cover his mistake. He attempted multiple times to have Uriah lay with his wife Bathsheba so he would be known as the father of the spurious child. David even stooped so slow that he got Uriah drunk, hoping that Uriah would go home to his wife. Yet Uriah had better character drunk than David had sober — he refused to lay with his wife while the king’s men and the whole Israelite army was at war with their enemies. When all of David’s attempts failed, he plotted the death of Uriah, ultimately killing one of his greatest warriors in order to cover his wrongdoing. As we can see throughout David’s journey, innocence isn’t lost by one virtueless act, but rather death by a thousand paper cuts or multiple pit stops in arrogance, offense, and unforgiveness. 

When offense, bitterness, entitlement, or unforgiveness take root in our heart, weeds begin to grow. If you do not pull the weeds and tend to the garden of your heart, the fruit of your heart will wither and weeds of offense will grow over. I’d propose that one of our greatest responsibilities is to care for the health of our heart; to tend to the weeds of bitterness, offense, unforgiveness and so on. Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” I challenge you to consider the areas of your heart where weeds have grown over and need pulling today. Invite the Lord into those places and to heal your heart from the pain. 

 Questions on Offense and Forgiveness Answered 

Question 1: How do we protect our innocence and guard our hearts and be present at the same time?

In order to protect our innocence we must first give up our judgements. We need to humble ourselves and loosen the grip on thinking we know why everyone makes the decisions that they do. I want to challenge you to consider the factors your leaders face, not just political leaders, but church leaders, school leaders, bosses, etc. Leaders make decisions that often affect a large group of people and if we assume we know their motives behind the decisions they make instead of recognizing the information and knowledge about their choice, we lose an opportunity to love them well and protect our hearts. 

Question 2: Does forgiveness mean not judging the person for what I forgave them for?

First we must acknowledge there are two kinds of judgement. One form of judgement is when you are making decisions between what is right and wrong. We make these kinds of judgments all day long; whether we should speed up or slow down at the yellow light, or eat another bowl of ice-cream. Then there are the kinds of judgements where we condemn people or think we know the intention of someone’s motives. But, the truth is only the Lord knows someone’s heart. What I am getting at is that we can forgive someone and judge their action as wrong, but we are not to condemn someone for their wrongdoing.

Question 3: How do you authentically love someone if you don’t like them? 

As a believer we are called to love the unlovely; this is our job. Yet, the Lord knew in our own human ability this would be incredibly challenging. This is why He sent His son so that we would have connection with Him. John 14:20 says, “On that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I in you.” The Heavenly Father loves the world, and because He lives in us, we have been given access to His agape love. I’d propose that when we tap into the love of Christ for someone we can actually access our human compassion for the person. You might begin to ask yourself questions like, “I wonder what their story is” or “What are the events in their life that have caused them to make that decision?” The Lord will begin to reveal the gold in the unlovely, because they are His children that are made in His image — there is something to love in each one of them. 

Question 4: As a leader how do you accommodate all the different views and opinions in one Church? 

As a Church leader it is not my job to get everyone to do the same thing. My God-appointed job is to love people, teach people about Jesus, and expand the Kingdom. Now, if I teach you noble values and the scriptures and it doesn’t affect the way you vote and the choices you make I am not sure I’ve done a very good job. But, let me be clear, it doesn’t mean you’re going to vote the same way I vote. This is the beauty of the Body of Christ, there is diversity in thought, and beauty in our differences and still we can gather together with one heart and one vision to worship the King and bring heaven to earth. 

My prayer for you this week is that you would begin to experience the agape love of God. That the areas of your heart that were once offended and burdened with arrogance or bitterness would be overcome with the love of God and you would experience the compassion the Father has for each and every one of His children. May we grow and be known by our love for one another. 

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