July 15, 2015
Matthew 23:13-15, 33
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
It is politically incorrect lately to offend anyone. One of the latest issues – one that has received more attention since the racially-inspired shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina – is to ban the Confederate flag from being publicly displayed because (according to a CNN report) the flag is “…a sign of the slave-holding South.” It is also a significant part of our history! Over 490 thousand Confederate men were killed, wounded, captured or missing as they passionately fought to defend that flag! But are we to relegate it only to museums because some are offended by its display?
What’s next? Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader in America, stated, “I don’t know what the hell the fight is about over the Confederate flag. We need to put the American flag down. Because we’ve caught as much hell under that as the Confederate flag….Who are we fighting today? It’s the people that carry the American flag.” Should the American flag not be flown because it offends some people?
“Don’t Offend Me!” That’s also the mantra to which a lot of people subscribe when it comes to sharing Jesus Christ! “Oh no! Don’t tell people they are sinners! Don’t tell them they are going to hell without faith in the Savior! Don’t offend anyone!” Well, Jesus sure did not adhere to this kind of thinking! Look at what He said in Matthew 23. I have reproduced verses 13 through 15 and 33 here:
…woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the king-
dom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you
allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long
prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one
proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell
as yourselves….Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the con-
demnation of hell?
Jesus certainly offended the Jewish leaders – so much so that they plotted His death! Why did He do it? He loved them! In Luke 19:41, when the Lord began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, it says, “Now as He drew near, He saw the city, and wept over it….” Why? Because Jesus knew the leaders and the people would generally reject Him, and He knew the resultant judgment – and it broke His heart!
If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things which
make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the
days will come upon you when your enemies will built an embankment
around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you,
and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in
you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your
visitation. (Luke 19:42-44).
Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for someone is to tell them of the danger toward which they are heading! But you also are to tell them there is an alternative! As Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
I was in a neighbor’s house the other day talking to a young man who is dating the neighbor’s daughter. As we sat at the kitchen table, I could not help but notice the program on TV. I do not know the channel or the program name, but it was featuring extreme partying. It showed in more than one scene two women making out. Another scene was a woman, having fallen down drunk, but wearing a short skirt and no underwear. Although her private parts were blurred out, it didn’t take much imagination to fill in all the details. I have been hooked in the past on pornography, and God delivered me from that addiction as well as others – alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food, etc. But I knew if I watched such programming, even for awhile, I would be drawn back into that sinful addiction.
So I warned the young man to whom I was talking – asking him, “Do you realize what a regular diet of that kind of stuff will do to you? You say you are a Christian. Why are you allowing that into your mind?” Was I offensive? Probably. But I care for this young man – I have known him since his birth! And – from personal experience – I knew the danger into which he is heading! I told him, “Let me share with you one verse that, if you obey what it says, will change your life!” And then I read Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, what-
ever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely,
whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is any-
thing praiseworthy –– meditate on these things.
Will he take my warning from God’s Word to heart? I hope so. But risking offense, I had to warn him!