Thick Skin & A Soft Heart: Is Carrying the Offense and Holding On to the Grudge Worth It?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first nineteen verses of the seventeenth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will encounter what I am convinced is one of the hardest truths Jesus ever spoke during His time of ministry upon the earth. If you read the four New Testament gospels you will quickly discover the truth that Jesus didn’t prepare us to be loved and received by the world as He thrust us into the midst of it. We would like to think in our natural minds that our existence in the world is going to be the experience of men and women reviving us openly and warmly as if we were guests into their home. We would like to think and believe the lie and the delusion that’s men and women within the world will embrace us with open arms as though we were and are some sort of long lost relative, son or daughter, or some friend from the past. The truth of the matter is that even though Jesus sent us into the world, He never sent us into the world to be loved, embraced, received, welcomed, valued and even appreciated. Lest you think that I am somehow misguided in this particular statement I would bring you face to face with the fact that even when the heavily Father sent His only begotten Som into the world, He didn’t send Him into the world to be received, welcomed and appreciated. In fact, when you read the first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find the apostle writing concerning Jesus the Christ and how He came unto His own and His own revived Him not. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this particular reality, for to do so would be to miss the overwhelming truth concerning the very Son of God, and how even the eternal Son was not sent into the world to be loved, appreciated, embraced, welcomed and received. If God did not send His own So into the world to be welcomed and embraced, then what makes us think for a single moment that we ourselves whine He sent out as lambs among wolves would and could experience anything different. If the servant is not above the master, nor the student above the teacher then what makes us think even for one fraction of a second that we can and will be any different in this life?

If and as you read the four gospels found within the New Testament you will quickly find and discover that although Jesus sent us into the world, and sent us in it to be as wide as serpents yet harmless as doves, He did not send us into the world to be loved. Anyone who would speak unto and declare unto you that you were and would be sent unto the world to be loved and received has a misguided understanding of the gospels. Those who would seek to declare unto you that you were and you will he sent into the world to be loved and received by those around you are selling you a bill of tainted goods and a pack of lies. Jesus never once promised in all His teaching and within all the words He spoke while on this earth that we would be loved, embraced, welcomed and received in this world by those in the world. In fact, I would submit to you based on scripture and what is found within the four gospels that Jesus sent us into the world and prepared us to be hated by the world. Now I fully realize and understand that this might seem like a contradiction concerning the nature of the Father, for if the Father in heaven is love then why would He send us into the world to be hated by men? If God is as loving and compassionate as the words within Sccriotire declare Him to be, then why and how could and would He send us into the world to be hated by men? It almost seems to be a contradiction in the divine nature of God to send us into the world to be hated by men since God is love as the apostle John wrotr in his first New Testament epistle. If there is one thing I am convinced of, its that if we are going to walk in this world, and if we are going to walk among those within the world, it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and accept the truth that we were not sent into the world to be loved of and loved by the world. What’s more, is that if you are looking to find love in the world—at least as it pertains to being embraced, welcomed and received—I would submit and declare unto you that such an expectation is not only misguided, but is also false and misleading. The Father in heaven never promised us that we would be loved in this world, but that we would be hated by all men. Tell me—do you believe the words that are found within the divine Word of God, and do you trust them? If you do then you have to know and understand that being loved and received by the world is not a promise we have been given.

I am completely and utterly convinced that there are and there have been countless men and women who have become disappointed with the fact that they sought for love in the world and found only hatred, animosity, rejection and the like. I am convinced that if we truly do walk with and follow Christ, and if we walk in this life as one of His disciples, we cannot and should not expect to be loved and received by those within the world. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus sent us into the world, He sent us into the world to be hated, despised and rejected of men. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that when Jesus was being sent into the earth to take on the form of human flesh, He was sent into the world knowing that He would be hated and rejected of men and that He would come unto His own and His own would receive Him not. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Jesus came into the world, he knew full well that He was going to be rejected, scorned, mocked, ridiculed, persecuted, and would suffer at the hands of the religious community first, and would then suffer at the hands of sinners. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we face the music and accept the truth that Jesus did not send us into the world to be loved and received by men, but rather to be hated by all men. The four gospels paint a very clear picture concerning this reality, and Jesus didn’t just make this declaration once, but He made it more than once. In fact, I am convinced that before we can get into the difficult truth that is found and contained within this particular passage within the New Testament gospel of Luke we must examine the scriptures that point to and reveal the reality that Jesus sent us into the world and sent us into the world to be hated, rejected and despised. If we are to truly understand what our place in this world could very much entail and include, it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that when Jesus sent us into the world to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves, He sent us into the world to be hated—and not only to be hated, but to be hated of and by all men. What’s more, is that I am convinced that we must consider the words which are written and found within the four gospels concerning this reality—words which reveal that when Jesus sent His disciples, and ultimately, when He sent us into the world, He sent us into the world to be hated. Consider if you will the words concerning this reality, which are found in the New Testament beginning with tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew:

“behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scour age you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciples that he be as his master, and the servant ass his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:16-33).

“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).

“But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. Now the brother shall betray brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:9-13).

“Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilence; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gain say nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake. But there shall not an hair of your head perish. In your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:10-19).

“These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hate the you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute thou; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent me. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. He that hate the me hate the my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:17-27).

What we find within each of these passages is one central theme, and one central truth concerning our existence in the world, and our place in the world—namely, that even though we have been sent into the world as sheep among wolves, and even though we have been sent into the world to be wise as serpents yet harmless as doves, we were sent into the world to be hated. In fact, Jesus recognized and understood that if the world hated Him the world would in fact also hate us. If the world did not and would not receive Him, the world not receive and accept us either. Jesus held no punches and emphatically declared that the servant is not above their master, nor the servant above their lord, and if the world hated both He and His Father who is in heaven, the world would hate us as well. We dare not think or even try to believe that there is anything different within the words of Jesus. The apostle John when writing his gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ emphatically declared that He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. What’s more, is that if you read the fifty-third chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find this reality manifested and expressed in an even greater light, for within the words found in this chapter we come face to face that it was the Father’s good pleasure, and the Father’s good will to send His Son into the world, and that His Son would suffer and ultimately die at the hands of sinners and religious folk. We would like to think that we have been sent into the world to be loved, received, valued, appreciated, welcomed and received by those we encounter, and yet the truth of the matter is that we have never been chosen or called to lead and live such a life. We have never been called and chosen to lead such a life where men and women love and receive us, and in fact, Jesus never promised us this in any of the words and teaching(s) He spoke and delivered. Throughout His ministry Jesus prepared His disciples for the fact that even though they were in the world they were not of the world, and it was this reality of not being of the world but of Jesus and His Father in heaven that would cause men and women to hate all who would be His disciples. With this being said, it is imperative that we understand that even though Jesus sent us into the world to be hated by others, we are not to reciprocate their hatred with hatred, nor their animosity with indifference, offense, bitterness, and evil. In fact, the exact opposite is true, for when you come to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew—the Sermon on the Mount which was spoken by Jesus the Christ—you will find strong words concerning our treatment of those which would hate us, those which would despise us, those which would reject us, those which would oppose, mistreat, and even persecute us. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew and how they are a perfect Segway into the words we find in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right check, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him Twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he make the his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sense that rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

Jesus makes it very clear that we resist not evil, and that whosoever would smite us on our right cheek, we are to turn unto them the other also. Jesus made it perfectly clear that if any one would sue us at the law, and take away our coat, we are to let them have our cloak also. Furthermore, Jesus would go on to declare that whosoever would compel us to go with them a mile, we are to go with them two miles. As if almost on cue, Jesus would go on to emphatically declare how we have heard that it was said to love our neighbor and hate our enemy, however, this was not a reality which Jesus was instructing us to live by. Instead of hating our enemies, Jesus instructed us to love our enemies, to bless those which curse us, do good to them that hate us, and pray tor those which despitefully use us, and persecute us. Taking this a step further, Jesus goes on to ask if we love those which love us, what reward do we have in this life, for even the publicans do the same. That which Jesus was driving home to us with and through these words was that we are not to repay evil with evil, nor are we to rage against those who would oppose, mock, ridicule, persecute and offend us. There would be many who would think that we are free to hate those who hate us, and to hate those who despitefully use us, and to hate our enemies, however, Jesus never drew a distinction between our treatment of friends and our treatment of enemies. Jesus never drew a dividing line between our friends and those whom we perceive as enemies, and instead instructed us to love them equally and to treat them the same. This—in all reality—goes against absolutely everything we have been taught, and against every grain and fiber in our being. It is very easy to hate our enemies, and to repay evil with evil, and yet this was never something Jesus instructed us to do, for that which Jesus instructed us to do was in all reality counter cultural. Please don’t miss this tremendous reality, for we must acknowledge and come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that we have been called to love our enemies the same way we are to love our neighbors without showing any partiality and indifference. What’s more, is that we were never given the option, nor were we given permission to pick and choose whom we would love, and for what reasons we would love them. We were never given the luxury to choose those whom we would love, nor even those whom we feel are worthy and deserving of love. This includes and is not limited to those who would offend, and those who have offended us. If we are truly honest with ourselves, as well as with the living God, we must state and declare that we have been offended at one point within our lives—even if the offense was made up within our own hearts and minds. I know that for myself I have allowed myself to be offended by the words and actions of others, and that I have allowed myself to grow bitter and offended with the words and actions of others—regardless of whether or not their actions are merely perceived within our minds.

This reality of offense and being offended brings us back to the words which are found written and contained within the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke, and to a truth which I began this writing stating was one of the most difficult truths Jesus ever stated. If you read the words which Jesus spoke unto His disciples on this particular occasion, you will find Him declaring unto that that it is impossible but that offense will come, but woe unto him through whom the offenses come. What’s more, is that within this same passage of Scripture Jesus not only spoke of offense, but Jesus also in the same line of thought would go on to speak about needing to take heed to ourselves, and if our brother sins or trespasses against us, we are to rebuke him. If in the process of rebuking our brother he repents, we are to forgive him. What’s super important to understand is that Jesus didn’t simply state that we are to forgive our brother if he sins against us once, but He took it a step further and declared that if our brother sins and trespassed against us seven times in a single day, and seven times in that same day that brother turns to us, saying they repent, we are to forgive them. The truth found and contained within this passage of Scripture is that we must not look to avoid offenses, nor even being offended. That individual who would tell you that it is impossible for offenses to be experienced, or even that it is impossible for us to get offended is not rooted and grounded in reality, nor are they even grounded in the word of God. As surely and as much as Jesus prepared us to be hated in the world, He also prepared us to face and experience offenses in this life. Jesus emphatically stated and declared that it was impossible for offenses to come in this life and in the world, and it’s almost as if He was declaring unto us to expect offenses to come, and to even expect to be offended. Tell me—when was the last time you actually expected to be offended, or even expected offenses to come in this life? When was the last time you actually recognized and understood that offenses are inevitable, and that it is highly likely and possible that you can and will be offended? When was the last time you actually thought within yourself that it was possible for someone to sin and trespass against you, and for the opportunity and possibility to be offended? Jesus held no punches when he declared that offenses would and could come, and that we should expect them. With that being said, however, we must recognize and understand that despite the fact that offenses come, we are not to allow ourselves to grow bitter, offended, angry, resentful, and to develop a hardened heart. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found within the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Matthew concerning offenses and forgiveness—two realities which go hand in hand. Consider if you will the words which are found in this particular chapter within the New Testament gospel of Matthew beginning with the third verse:

“Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which is lost. How think ye? If a man have an hundred sheep and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that’s in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three AR gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Tell seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:3-22).

It’s absolutely remarkable and astounding within this passage that not only did Jesus speak about offenses and that offenses must and would come, but Jesus would go on to speak unto us concerning our handling of such offenses. Jesus taught us to anticipate and to expect offenses, however, He never taught, nor did He instruct us to be offended. There is a vast difference between offenses coming and our being offended. We would like to read the words which Jesus spoke and think that He taught us that it is impossible for us not to be offended, and yet the truth of the matter is that that which Jesus actually taught was that it is impossible for offenses not to come. The crux of the matter is not that offenses come and are present in this life and in this world, but in how we deal with and handle offenses. It is absolutely no coincidence that Jesus spoke unto us concerning offenses and forgiveness, for the two are more inter-connected and related than we would like to admit. As surely as Jesus prepared us to be hated by all men, and as surely as Jesus prepared us to be hated in this life by those in the world, He also prepared us for offenses to come in this life, and for us to have the ability to be offended. We must recognize and understand that while it is in fact true that offenses can and will come, we have never been given the right to be offended. What if I told you that it is possible for offenses to come, and yet us not actually grow and become offended? What if I told you that it is possible for offenses to come, and for by our brother to sin against you seventy times seven, and each and every time he sins against you you are to forgive him? The words which Jesus spoke on this occasion strike at the very core of our heart and strike every fiber of our being, for it is so easy to face and experience offenses, and in the process of facing and experiencing offenses, we allow ourselves to be offended and to even grow bitter. In all reality, however, Jesus never gave us permission to become offended—despite how many times the offenses come, and despite how many times offenses come specifically against us and within our lives. Jesus knew and understood that offenses would in fact come, however, Jesus never gave us permission to become offended in light of and in the face of offenses. Jesus never gave us permission to hold grudges, and He never gave us permission, nor reason and excuse not to forgive those who sin and trespass against us. Offenses can and will come, and yet the truth of the matter is that despite the offenses coming, we have been instructed not to allow ourselves to grow offended and to become bitter, angry and resentful. Even though every fiber of our being would want to become offended and even hold a grudge against those who have sinned against and wronged us, we have not been given the right, nor the privilege of harboring a grudge and being offended. The question we must ask ourselves in the midst of what we have before us today is not only our awareness of offenses before and all around us, but how we handle offenses—particularly and especially when they are hurled and lobbied against us. Are we willing to give up our right to be offended, even though offenses are inevitable, and even though our brother might sin against us seventy times seven? Are we willing to lay aside our perceived right to be offended with and by the actions and words of others, and to not only develop thick skin, but also a soft heart of forgiveness, mercy, grace and compassion?

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