Offense is some the best bait the enemy has in its tackle box.

Even sound, kind, good intentioned words can be twisted by an offended mind into something different than intended.

So when speaking: We should aim to never be intentionally offensive with our words — and never compromise the truth out of fear that it might offend.

And when listening: We should aim to not read or hear with an offended mind — but take every opportunity to listen, consider, respect, love, and freely forgive others even when we believe they are wrong — and pray for them and for our own forgiving hearts even the more fervently if we believe they have been hurtful towards us.

Because their saying/writing something hurtful once in a heated moment is not nearly as dangerous as us replaying it against them repeatedly in our hearts and minds.

I realize that a lot of what we as Christians share is convicting and easily leads to offense for those who do not believe and are still enemies of God. And even us sharing with each other because of season and circumstances can have us sharpening each other and disagreeing at times.

Friend, I still love and respect you whether we agree or disagree at any given moment or discussion. Please don’t ever think that my friendship or love is contingent upon you living up to any expectations on my part.

Dealing with sensitive discussions about sin and repentance is hard in a world that seeks to justify anything and everything that a person feels, desires or believes as “their own truth”.

And politically speaking in this election year, neither liberal/Democrat nor conservative/Republican match perfectly what I believe is the Christian Kingdom way of living that is just+loving and fiscally responsible + generous. Walking the narrow path rather than choosing a clan/party leaves a lot of room for others on both sides to hate you — just because you aren’t “along with them for the ride”. The religious people killed Jesus, not the lawless — so we can expect very challenging issues from the religious side of others — and even from that nature within ourselves — making war against whatever in us is bringing the good fruit into the world.

I’m too often very direct and not very personable in my writing. I too often state facts meant in love, but that I haven’t taken the times to knock off the sharp edges with a gentle delivery. I can at times use the poor excuse that I’m trusting the Word will not fall void — but in actuality, sometimes it is my laziness and apathy that has me sowing seed without first tending to the ground. It would be better building a trusting relationship that can accept my fingers poking seeds into the ground, pulling up weeds, or even hard plowing. And too many times I’ve been quick to use the plow in my hand because it was there, not necessarily because it was the right tool for the season.

I’m sorry for the times that in my ignorance and zeal I may have torn through a beautiful flower garden someone else was already working on.

However, it is beautiful how the Lord uses all of it, even turns all of it to His good and His glory when we each can humble ourselves to admit our weaknesses and acknowledge Him. He has used these things to teach me things I’ve done that missed the mark, and even in the foolish of my preaching, to teach others things that they did that missed the mark too. But whether we are missing the mark or not should not have us questioning His ability to save, or the blessed assurance of our own salvation — even when it does produce in us a renewed fear of God and call to repentance.

In our natural, we link fear and conviction to “negative feelings” — but by His spirit, these are the very vehicle He uses to humble us to the only true “positive truth” that there is only one true way and that is to die to self, give up everything that we have been clinging to or desiring or demanding, and sit at His feet like sweet, childlike Mary, not like busy, judging, active, offended Martha.

And even though it is a repeated process, like sheep prone to go astray at the next distraction, we need each other bringing us to remembrance of that process or we won’t do it. In most cases, I see Him using two people with slightly different “missing the mark” issues in their heart at the time — not to show the one that the other was right — but to show both how He can use sheep in opposite ditches to remind them both of their need for the shepherd, even by their cries towards each other, “Hey, watch out, you’re in a ditch!”

It really is a beautiful thing, and I appreciate how the more pastoral (tending personality and up close to the hurt) and evangelical (longing for the lost) gifts — in these times can temper and correct the prophetic (calling for repentance) and preaching (proclaiming the written Word of God) gifts. I’ve seen Him work far beyond our individual “good intentions” at the time, opening my eyes to an awareness of areas He is still working on in us — and assuring me that even sparring with a fellow warrior for Christ is not a death match, but a journey in humility and love and appreciation for Him and for each other. I’m glad to have been sharpened and humbled by so many wonderful Christian friends and been rescued to repentance when I’ve found myself initially offended instead of humbled.