Summary: More than anyone, Christians should be the best at dealing with conflict and being offended. Unfortunately, experience shows us that we may be among the worst. Nothing dirties the church’s so much, and nothing better gauges the spiritual maturity of a per
More than anyone, Christians should be the best at dealing with conflict and being offended. Unfortunately, experience shows us that we may be amoung the worst. Nothing dirties the church’s so much, and nothing better gauges the spiritual maturity of a person than how we deal with conflict and trials amoungst us. I have been working on this sermon for months. This message may be the most important one you and I ever hear, so I beg you to follow closely today.
I want to start by using what Joseph went through as an example of how God can use the worst offences, things we would never experience, for good. Most of us know the story of how his brothers were jealous of him because he was Dad’s favorite, and instead of killing him they sold him into Egyptian slavery, telling their father that he had been eaten by wild animals.
The long and short of the story is that Joseph rose to great power in Egypt and had a great opportunity to get revenge against his brothers during a famine, but he refused and actually helped them in the end. His famous words at the end of Genesis were that “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. What a great picture of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Like Joseph, can we see offence and mistreatment as a potentially sovereign gift from God? We are told many times that suffering is to be expected when we follow the Lord. Can we rejoice for acting as Jesus commands when we are offended by someone?
The root of being offended is insecurity, fear, and lack of faith in God. Holding on to offence and unforgiveness is a misguided way of protecting ourselves, rather than allowing God to be our protector. Sometimes not reacting, doing nothing, is the best response to another’s attack. Jesus was the ultimate example of this.
Now I’m sure some of us are thinking, “come on, we have to fight back sometimes.” Well do we? We are going to see that leaving it up to Him, is exactly God’s will. I am confident in saying that besides insecurity, the other reasons Christians don’t handle conflict well are because we either don’t know or understand Scripture, or we don’t really believe it. If we did, we would live our lives according to it.
David is another example. David could have easily killed Saul who was chasing David through the countryside to kill him, but he didn’t, why? Why did God give him this easy opportunity in the cave? Simply to see if this man after His own heart would be obedient, and David apparently passed the test, by sparing Saul’s life.
God knows our hearts and will test us with challenges. If he already knows how someone will react according to his will in a situation, those people will usually be spared from going through those kinds of situations. But if you find yourself in difficult circumstances, it’s likely that God is testing your heart and your obedience.
He knows whether or not you will respond to offence as he would like, and he will give you continued opportunities to deal with it according to His will.
Often though these people who are easily offended and hold onto offence, tend to go into victim mode. “Why does this happen to me? Why do people treat me this way?” Rather than looking at how they react, they blame and look for sympathy. Often God is giving them opportunities to change their reactions, as opposed to wanting to punish them.
Chances are as a Christian, if you’re not good at dealing with conflict in God’s way, you will get more opportunities to go through conflict than someone who has learned to deal with it in God’s way. Conflict is always an opportunity for spiritual growth. In fact it’s probably the best training ground to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and maturity.
The Bible makes it very clear that we are not put in a position to protect the world from injustice, and immorality, that is God’s job. Our job is to love those who are treated badly, and love the ones who treat others badly, so that they may be changed by the love of God. We are to trust God, not flesh, to protect us from offence and dole out justice.
How many people have left churches and families and workplaces because they didn’t like what the leadership was doing? We are called to submit to leadership even if it’s bad. We have a right to lovingly say something directly to our leaders if we see them acting unbiblically. But leaving a church because of offence is very dangerous. This is what creates cafeteria style church and spiritual gypsies.