Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

Recently I encountered a leader who took personal offense about things that were said concerning his teachings and practices. As I observed how he dealt with the situation, the Lord began to instruct me in His ways. His instructions not only confirmed what He had showed me through the years but also gave me a greater glimpse into the Person of Jesus.

Jesus Christ is our only example in the handling of all matters; therefore, we must consider Him in every situation that arises. His example not only shows us what our response needs to be, but what our attitude must be in order to ensure godly results. In fact, His example takes away man’s depraved interpretation and speculation about what is acceptable to God and shows him the attitude and fruits of it.

Jesus first of all dealt with personal offenses by emptying Himself of His reputation. In other words, He gave up that which could be offended by giving up His glory.

The glory of God, which embodies God’s majesty and greatness, is the very virtue that demands we honor God for who He is. Jesus humbled Himself and gave up that honor. He even went one step farther by veiling His identity with humanity.

His example caused me to consider what I must give up in order to walk in His path. The answer is simple: I must give up my glory as well.

You might be saying right now, “Rayola, we have nothing to glory in.” You are correct, but man still has his means of glorying. We know it as vainglory and that it embodies the essence of our pride, identity and rights.

Unchecked vainglory demands that it be honored at all times. It is fragile because it is idolatrous and touchy. It is foolish because it lacks true humility. It is hypocritical because it is blinded by delusion and is unreasonable because it is devoid of the fear of God.

People who are plagued with their own vainglory can be easily offended. These offenses are considered criminal by the one offended and must be brought quickly under control. If the person is clever and a good game player, they will usually take it one step further by becoming the humble, suffering victim to get those around them to take up their offense and defend them. This clever tactic is nothing more than a disguise that hides their real anger and wickedness.

Now let’s consider this scenario in light of the example Jesus gave us so long ago. Jesus gave up His rights as God, clothed His identity in humanity and walked in humility and meekness. He had the right to be honored but He exchanged it for a cross. He had the right to judge and yet, He became judgment for us. He was offended many times, but He never took offense. He was unfairly treated, but He chose not to become a victim, but a Victor. He never asked anyone to take offense for Him, but rather He rebuked those who did such as James and John who wanted to call fire out of heaven. And on one occasion even told one of His followers to put down his sword.

Over the years, the Lord has used ministry to show me my vainglory. Nothing will expose your pride faster than working in the harvest field. In fact, you will meet with the same obstacles Jesus encountered. You will be misunderstood, falsely accused, beaten up and occasionally crucified. There are times you will wonder if ministry is even worth it, but if you have the right heart, you will once again make the determination to finish the course set before you by the precious Son of God.

Vainglory must be dealt with in our lives. It is one of the most destructive forces in humanity. It will always cause strife between people. It lacks discretion; therefore, it always improperly handles situations. It will use, abuse and sacrifice those who are closest to its influences. In fact, unchecked vainglory in the Kingdom of Heaven produces wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The Lord shows us what to do with our vainglory–deny it any place in our lives. For example, when you feel offended, choose not to give in to it. When you take offense for someone else, put it aside and know that God is the one Who will ultimately defend that which belongs to Him. When you feel you have been unfairly treated, don’t seek people who will agree or defend you, but seek God who is just and rewards those who secretly suffer such persecution. He will bring perspective, comfort and healing to you. If you have been wronged, don’t seek to make it right for yourself, but make sure your response to the situation is acceptable to God.

Overcoming vainglory when it raises its sinister head in your life simply means you are getting past self so you can gain God’s perspective. And you will find there is only one acceptable perspective in God’s kingdom.

Jesus showed us what that perspective needed to be–doing the will of God. God’s will was not about Jesus walking among mankind to impress them with supernatural displays, but about securing their salvation. Jesus’ will was not about getting due recognition but about dying on a cross. God’s will is not that you and I get our deserved recognition but that we bring glory to God in all situations.

The question is when is taking offense acceptable to God? Jesus only took offense in one area and that surrounded the issue of man’s eternal destination. For example, He rebuked the Pharisees for leading people away from God with their man-made doctrines and took authority over the enemy of man’s souls. He exposed the hypocrisy of man’s selfish heart and the destruction of man’s religion. He reached out to the sinner while taking a sword to the self-righteous. He went out of His way to meet a Samaritan woman at the well but instructed His followers to leave the swine (worldly-complacent people) in their pigpens. He calls out to the sheep but will bring judgment on the goats who justify compromise.

The Word of God is clear that God’s foremost concern is man’s eternal destination. This should be our main concern. But if you are caught up with maintaining your life (personal reputation and honor), people’s souls will become insignificant as you find yourself always battling to try to save your own life.

The next time you become offended, don’t wait for an apology from the offender. Quickly go to the foot of the cross and ask yourself if you even have a right to be offended. I can assure you from past experiences, your offense will fade away as you realize that all personal offenses were nailed to the cross with Jesus.

We at GSM want to thank all of our faithful supporters. You have helped us carry the burden for lost and hurting people. We thank you for your prayers and gifts and trust God will honor you in a special way.