Stop and discern. Can you see that the enemy has released an attack to bring division among My people? You, My faithful ones, must stand against this attack. Do not entertain the temptation to be offended or to point the finger in accusation. You must deal with your own heart and be righteous. This is a time to refocus your attention away from yourself and look to Me, says the Lord. For, I will extricate you from offense if you will allow it.
Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.
The quote above was taken from today’s Spirit of Prophecy Bulletin (http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=yymmtrbab&v=001gZhKK2h2Be_D6yGxuKPSManqENpntnNJlJ2b6XiUDhnVJYpfDdKCpc92c-vJDRui5GH_DexOGdk7VBoAUQ5Ey2tvETSInK3oPxpu_KPRRw-b1LRmHF895LlJ8Wb2q6EC6wc3hl8gy8g%3D), which I subscribe to. Frequently, these prophecies are not only right on target, but speak personally to my current situation. Today’s prophecy is a perfect example.
Both me, personally and this ministry have been attacked by people I had thought were my friends. And it is no surprise that these attacks were prompted by an offense that I didn’t even know that I had committed. Instead of coming to me to find out the truth of things, these people took offense and talked about me behind my back. Hidden in the dark, fed by supposition and goaded on by the enemy things fester and grow and rage is the result.
Over the course of this year I’ve seen other people, ministries, and churches attacked in similar manner. Things that could easily have been resolved by honest and loving confrontation instead blew completely out of proportion and into all-out vindictive war.
The thing that shocked me most of all was to find myself being the offended person. I thought that this person had damaged this ministry. And so I launched all-out vindictive war on somebody who is flawed, but no more so than myself. I tried to “save” this person from the worst of my anger by avoidance. And in explaining my position to a mutual friend, I pointed out how much I have sacrificed to be here: “I sold my house and gave away virtually all of my belongings. I have left behind my family—my grandson!—and friends. This ministry has cost me a lot, and not just in terms of money.” I continued to explain my all-consuming passion for seeing Europe come back to Christ. Obviously, there was only one right way to look at this thing. The person who had offended me knew that I was angry, so there was two-way avoidance going on, and my outrage grew.
Then, when I could no longer contain my anger, we finally had a confrontation yesterday. I didn’t listen at the time, but this person’s words rang inside my head after we parted. They got through to me, and suddenly I felt horrible about the way I had treated this person. On top of that, God showed me that my problem was not this person, but my own pride. Then my eyes were opened to see that I was calling it my ministry, and that I had promoted myself as being so righteous because of all the things I had sacrificed for the ministry. I had taken my eyes off Jesus and was focused instead on the ministry and on myself.
I saw that this person had offended me, just as I had offended the others, without knowing it, and without meaning to do so. I was finally seeing myself as the angry, unreasoning aggressor, and I didn’t like what I saw. But I confessed my sin to God, and then to this person. Both graciously forgave me without hesitation.
I want to reiterate: where I had gone wrong was in taking my eyes off Jesus. So often we get caught up in Christian service that we forget that the point is not the service, but Who we serve.
And this enlightenment has helped me to have more understanding and compassion for those who I had unwittingly offended. I forgive them and hope someday for the restoration of those relationships. That’s not an empty hope because Jesus is all about restoration. He is God of a Second Chance. We all need a second chance!