It happened again. I allowed a measuring spoon to fall into the garbage disposal and it got bent out of shape. When my husband said, “Sweetie, again?” I got bent out of shape. Not my intention, for sure, but as they say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
This time, though, I immediately went to God in prayer. In my spirit, I groaned, why am I so easily offended? I want to flow in Your love, and an easily offended spirit isn’t there.
“It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 AMP)
We know that “the love chapter” in 1st Corinthians tells us that love is not easily offended. The Greek word for “offended” is παροξύνω (pronounced paroxynō), and means easily provoked to anger, irritated, or offended.
So how does the Tanach (Old Testament) treat this idea?
Proverbs 17:9 is translated “He who covers an offense promotes love; But he who repeats a matter separates best friends.” However, the word used here is not “offense,” but “transgression.”
Proverbs 19:11 says this: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger. It is his glory to overlook an offense.” Again, the word translated “offense” is “transgression.”
Only twice in the Tanach does the word מִכְשׁוֹל appear, meaning “offense.” The most well-known passage is in Isaiah 8:14, where the Messiah is called a “rock of offense.”
The same idea, “rock of offense” (σκάνδαλον), in the New Covenant is pronounced “skandalon” and is where we get the English word “scandal.” And what is this scandal? It is that Jews and Gentiles have equality in that they must both approach the Messiah in faith. Works won’t work, so to speak.
To the Jews, who for thousands of years thought that they would be accepted by God based on their own righteousness via their righteous deeds, being put on a par with “unrighteous Gentiles” insofar as their acceptability to God was indeed an offense!
So, to conclude, we should recognize that giving offense or receiving offense is a matter of great seriousness as it is seen as transgression. We can only by God’s grace walk in the kind of love that does not give or receive offense.
And together, we are all on the same footing. Let us not stumble over the truth.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26
In what way are we made in God’s image, after His likeness?
The word in Hebrew for image is צֶלֶם (tse-lem). It is from an unused root meaning “to shade.” Figuratively, it means a representative figure. We are to represent Him on this Earth. In the Ancient Near East in Moses’ time (remember he wrote the Torah which contains this verse), an image was believed to bear the essence of the thing it represented. We are to bear God’s essence! If you live in Texas, as I do, you are meant to carry His essence in Texas. If you live in Singapore, you are meant to carry it in Singapore.
God is not repeating Himself when He says “after our likeness.” That’s a different word: דְּמוּת (de-muth). It means—in some way—a similitude. Another word for similitude or likeness is equivalence. Obviously, we are not equal to God in every respect, but if you look at the very next words, you can see how we are equivalent: we have dominion. By giving us dominion over the earth, we have become like God. He has total dominion, but we have limited dominion.
We resemble God in the way that the moon resembles the sun. The moon is a light in the sky because the sun is shining. We have dominion, but it is a reflected dominion, the way the moon is a reflected light. Without the sun, the moon would be just a dead rock whirling around in space. Without God, our dominion would have no foundation to draw upon.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” — Exodus 20:8-11
When God created all that exists, He did it in six days. Yet He didn’t finish until the end of the seventh day. Why was that? Because God wanted man to remember all that He had done and to rest on the seventh day. Imagine. God made man on the sixth day and the first thing He had him do was rest!
There are numerous reasons for the keeping the Sabbath holy (set apart and sanctified to God) and we benefit from every one of them. But to me, the most important one is because it is holy; God made it so.
The time we spend resting on the Sabbath rejuvenates us for the rest of the week. It’s similar to the tithe. God can do more with 90% of your income when you give the first 10% to Him first than you can do with 100% of your money. The Sabbath is time taken out of our 168 hours—24 hours set aside to receive a gift of time. The tithe given in joy to God reaps rewards, and the Sabbath kept with joy reaps rewards, too.
The Sabbath is meant to be a gift. It is not something that should make us chafe, impatiently waiting so that we can get back to what we’re about.
And speaking of that, there is a difference between work that is not allowed on the weekly Sabbath and work that is not allowed on the other Sabbaths and feasts days of the Lord. On the weekly Sabbath, we are to do no labor. That word in Hebrew is melakha (מְלָאכָה), which refers to all forms of human activity that is work.
The work not allowed on the feast days and other Sabbaths is called avodah (עֲבֹדָה), which means any work that is part of your normal labor. My pastor, who is Jewish, likes to mow his lawn on the Sabbath. It is relaxing to him, and he doesn’t do it during the other six days of the week.
Did you realize that most people who say they keep the Ten Commandments rarely remember the Sabbath? For some reason, modern man has simply cut the fourth commandment out. But really, a precious few also keep the first three commandments, either. If you’re not keeping the Sabbath, have you made an idol out of your work? Are you looking to “make a name for yourself” (a graven image)? Are you by not keeping the Sabbath yet calling yourself by His name taking the Lord’s name “in vain”? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think and why.
W hat feelings come when you think about evangelism? Fear? Anxiety? Intimidation? When someone mentions sharing your faith, do you feel unbearable pressure, as though your actions will make the difference in a person’s eternal destiny? If this is how you feel, you’re in good company.
Especially in today’s “tolerant” atmosphere that doesn’t tolerate talking about anything that might offend someone, it truly is intimidating when you think about the former paradigm of evangelism. So if you feel burdened when the opportunity to share your faith comes, look to Paul. His perspective
1st Corinthians 3:6 says: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”
was completely different. He didn’t find evangelism burdensome, because he didn’t see the outcome as his responsibility. Sharing the joy of knowing Jesus was what he loved more than anything to do. Here’s why.
Paul recognized that sharing the faith is a team effort. He never felt like the Lone Ranger, solely responsible for reaching everyone with the Gospel. He didn’t work alone but partnered with others who knew and loved Jesus as well.
He knew that God was responsible for saving people, not him. He freely and joyfully told others about his Savior as he partnered with God as He drew people to Himself.
“Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]? Romans 2:4 (AMP).”
When my husband and I were missionaries in Russia, we would see churches send over short-term missionaries with an agenda. They thought they had to make a set number of conversions in order to be “successful.” It filled us with sadness because after “saving” a bunch of orphans at summer camp, they would go home full of themselves and promptly forget the children with whom they had “shared their faith.” This pressure to evangelize was rooted in pride, as evidenced by their emphasis on numbers. (It actually had the completely opposite effect, as, after a while, the kids who had been “saved” at numerous camps and then spiritually abandoned didn’t see the benefit of saying the “magic words” that would change their lives.)
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: John 16:7-8 (MP)”
Though some Christians do the work of an evangelist out of pride, revelling more in the fact that they led someone to Christ than the fact that the person is now saved, others have different motivations. Some feel pressure to live up to an ideal that they have created in their minds based upon conference speakers or authors who speak about evangelism. Still, the focus is on themselves. They do not see themselves as part of a team that includes the Holy Spirit, to whom all credit is due.
The kind of evangelism that draws people to God is the kind that develops deep and longstanding relationships. That’s exactly how God draws people to Himself, and when we team up with God, people desire more of that kind of relationship.
What are your feelings about sharing your faith? Pray for God to give you the freedom to work as a team member with the Holy Spirit and with others.
H ow did Jesus “do evangelism”? Most Christians who consider evangelization think of it as “doing something” to someone else. It’s not something most people look forward to, but in reality, we are being evangelists every time we step outside our doors and into the everyday world.
Perhaps you’re not called to go to the foreign mission field (I was), but that doesn’t mean you don’t do the work of a missionary. Your mission field is your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your coworkers. We are all surrounded by the lost who are going into eternity completely unprepared.
Are you content to leave them there?
Rebecca Manley Pippert wrote in her book Out of the Saltshaker Into the World that “Christians and non-Christians have one thing in common: They hate evangelism.”
That’s really sad because evangelism is simply loving people enough to tell them who Jesus is. It doesn’t require you to beat someone over the head with a Bible or to push sinners away from your presence. Evangelism is meant for sinners.
Think about it. Who were you when someone introduced you to Christ? You were a sinner. But that person cared enough to share the Gospel and introduce you to the Son who died because you were a sinner.
Mark 2:14-15 says: “As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.”
Jesus didn’t come to get more people into the Kingdom, His own personal club where the insiders were welcome but the rest were left out. He came to save people from the consequences of who they were. Or are, since He’s still doing it today.
When we look at the passage above in Mark, we see that Jesus loved everyone equally. He loved the sinners despite their sins and He ate with them in their homes. Religious Jews didn’t set foot inside the home of a sinner, lest they become defiled. But that’s not what Jesus did. He went where the people were hurting and loved them there.
What kind of Christianity do you show the lost in your own life? Do they see compassion for them? Or do they avoid you because your attitude says you are “holier than they”?
John 4:37-38 says: “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true.I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
When you meet someone new or talk to someone you’ve known for a long time, do you want to know their spiritual condition? If not, why not?
In the movies Schindler’s List, Schindler realizes at the end that he is wearing a ring that had he sold it could have provided money to save even one more. Of course, the movie doesn’t accurately portray Oskar Schindler and
I doubt that the scene depicting this is real. Nevertheless, the point is well made that we all have something that could save someone else.
That something is the love of God. When you share it, people get saved.
So have you prayed about it?
Have you asked God to show you people through His eyes? Have you asked that the love that Jesus shared be evident in your life? Spend some time this week asking God to lead you into deeper relationships with the lost so that you can share the most precious thing you have with them.