That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nothing Shall Offend

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
Psalm 119:165

Over the past few weeks I've written a series of articles about Peace.  I talked about this verse here and dealt mainly with the first part.  Peace comes from loving God's Law.  However, the second part of this verse is interesting.  I always took it to mean that if I loved God's law, which is essentially obedience, then I wouldn't be offended by people.  That could be one application; however, there are things that offend me. One thing that really offends me is people who lie.  I have no respect for a liar.  Lying disgusts me.  Since this verse says nothing shall offend, is the fact that I'm offended by lying a contradiction?  Maybe the "nothing shall offend them" means something different?

The second part of this verse must be interpreted in light of the first part of the verse.  You know what's interesting?  A lot of Christians seem to be offended by parts of God's law.  I'm sure this has happened to many of you.  It's happened to me.  The pastor preaches hard against a certain sin on a particular Sunday.  Maybe he speaks against lying.  He reads all the verses in the Bible that condemn lying.  His main text is Revelation 21:8 which condemns liars to burn in hell.  It doesn't convict you personally, because you are not tempted to lie and you don't lie.  You leave the service all fired up.  Those liars!!! They are terrible, wicked human beings and they need to repent of their sin!  You shake the pastor's hand vigorously as you leave, thanking him for preaching an excellent sermon.

 The next Sunday the pastor preaches about something different.  He preaches about the responsibility of the Christian to give to his/her local church.  Your conscience is pricked.  You haven't given anything in the offering in...ah... oh say... a couple of months or so???  At best, your giving is hit and miss, and it's usually not with a cheerful spirit.  The pastor reads all the texts about giving.  You start to get a little angry.  He shouldn't be preaching against YOU like that.  After all, you teach Sunday school every week without complaining.  You are at every service.  You even volunteer to clean the church every once in a while.  He should be happy with what you are doing in the church!  He shouldn't be demanding more.  The pastor keeps preaching about giving.  He says that we are responsible to be good stewards.  He even has the nerve to say God commands Christians to give.  By the end of the service you are so upset that you don't even make eye contact as you shake the pastors hand before your hasty exit.  You are OFFENDED!  

But wait..... Last week when the pastor preached about lying you were all supportive.  Now you're offended by him preaching about giving.  Both subjects were dealt with equally from the Scripture.  He didn't preach his opinion, he preached the Word.  The Bible DOES forbid lying, and it DOES command giving.  Each are equally part of God's law.  The difference is that you love one part of God's law, but not the other, and you are offended by that part of the law you do not love.  It's not the Pastor's fault you are upset.  It's not the other church members' fault.  The offence is caused by nothing more than your own lack of love.  

We've all been in this place.  The Holy Spirit is really good at using preaching to reveal the parts of God's law that we don't love.  Too often we want to blame our offence on someone or something else, rather than taking personal responsibility for it.  Many times offences like this escalate into full-blown feuds between church members and pastors.  They often result in much bitterness, and sadly even in people leaving churches.  The Bible has the answer for overcoming these offences.  It's really simple.  Love God's Law!  Yet in such simplicity is such difficulty for our flesh rebels against rules and submission.  May we not give into the flesh, but instead seek to increase our love for God's law by reading it, memorizing it, and putting it into practice in our lives.

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