When was the last time you felt offended by what someone said, did or did not say or do?
“Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be delivered.” Matthew 24:10-13
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
In last month’s blog we explored empathy and seeing the best in others. Today we focus on the bait that Satan uses in our lives to create strife and division within our relationships. As we know, his main desire is that our identity, peace and purpose are stolen.
John Bevere in his book: The Bait of Satan, reminds us that the devil uses offense to create division and strife within our relationships. His desire is to separate us from one another and create chaos rather than connection and order, which the Holy Spirit continually invites us to embrace. In John 10:10, Jesus gives us insights into the devil’s mode of operation to kill (our purpose), steal our peace and destroy our identity but Jesus has come that we may have life (purpose, peace and identity).
In the Gospel of Matthew 24, Jesus says that in the end times offense will increase, triggering betrayal and hatred resulting in the love of most growing cold. The word offense comes from the Greek word: skandalon which is the part of the trap that holds the bait and snaps down on the animal who takes the bait. We are that animal and we continue to take the bait even though we know how emotionally painful it is when we do. When we take the bait, strife and division instantly enter center state of our relationships. The question is, how do we resist the urge to take the bait?
It starts with remembering whose we are, which is a foundational teaching at Lead Like Jesus and the first phase of Emotional Intelligence in Christ. As we anchor our identity in the One who created us, we become less vulnerable to rising and falling depending upon how the world judges us at that time. Jesus Christ of Nazareth is our mentor when it comes to not taking the bait. As you read through the Gospels you will notice that Jesus was not confined by two things: status and the opinions of other people.
Our need to be acknowledged, seen, recognized, understood, appreciated and included are all fueled by the spirit of pride rooted in self focus: the drug of approval hijacks our identity and our freedom. Jesus lived outside of that space as He fixed His eyes on the purpose for which His heart beat: the salvation of souls. As we remember that we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10) we are less likely to take the bait and remember it’s not about us…it’s always about God’s purposes within and through us.
So the next time you find yourself in a situation where you can easily take the bait start to talk back to the stress in your body: Breathe, calm down, God is with me and loves me, I’m safe. What is this really about? What’s mine to own for growth? This is an opportunity to let the fruit of the spirit: self-control (2nd phase of Emotional Intelligence in Christ) take center stage. It is to my glory to overlook an offense and respond in love, gentleness and calm (Proverbs 29:11).
This week, before your start each day ask the Lord for the strength to resist the urge to take the bait. Remember that you are not the opinions and behavior of other people unless you choose be. People that push our buttons are our greatest teachers because they reveal where we are stuck. When you take the bait ask the Holy Spirit to help you recover quickly. Remember you are safe; God adores you and desires to develop His character within you to set you free along with teaching you how to love others as Jesus did and does.
“It is for Freedom that Christ has set us free. STAND FIRM AND DON’T ALLOW yourself to be burdened by the yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1 The yoke of slavery we focused on today, is that of taking offense. Stand firm in Christ, anchor your faith in the word of God and don’t allow yourself to take the bait. Invite the power of the Holy Spirit within your mind, will and emotions to protect your heart against offense.