NEVER GRAB A DOG BY IT'S EARS

I’m a little like the 90 year old guy that somehow still has his drivers licence and spends his day meandering through traffic and cutting people off.   He never uses his turn signal and and never notices the other drivers who are waving their fists and other appendages at him in anger.  It’s his mission in life and there is no telling how many bad days he has inflicted on his hapless victims.  Meanwhile he never gives it a second thought and quite merrily carries on his way. 

What I am saying here is, I guess I need to admit that I am not terribly aware when I have offended people.   I do understand that if I go on national TV every week for half an hour and talk about sin, or God, or hell, or politics, or homosexuality, I’m going to offend at least a  few people.  And sometimes a whole whack of them.  Now, I don’t do it on purpose, although I probably enjoy far more than I should.

In the New Testament the word for offense is ‘scandalon’ from where we get the English word scandalize.  A ‘scandalon’ was a trap that that would be set for an animal.  Once it’s paw was caught in the scandalons jaws it was trapped and would probably die there.  Offense is exactly the same.  Once we become offended by something someone says or does, WE are the ones who have set our foot in the trap.  Like the old coot behind the wheel in my illustration more often than not the offender has gone merrily on his way. 

We live in a hyper-sensitive world.  People are offended by everything.  Comedians like David Letterman and Conan O’Brien spend their whole lives apologising to Hollywood’s delicate geniuses who are the butt of their jokes.  They are happy to do it because every scandal (scandalon) only boosts their ratings.  It is the one who is offended that becomes the real loser.  Bitterness and unforgiveness are the world’s most destructive forces.    How many families do you know that will not speak to one another because of some stupid petty disagreement that in the greater scheme of things has zero value?  Life is too short to carry bitterness for even one minute.

Then there is another kind of offence that is even worse.  I call the second-hand offence.  When we become offended for someone else…who incidently may not be offended at all.  When I tell Newfie jokes I get a raft of angry letters.  But never from the Newfies (who probably came up with the joke in the first place) but from others who are offended for them.  Proverbs 26:17  says, He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears.   Grab a dog by the ears and A) you realize there is no good way to let go, you’re into it now and B) no matter what you do, you are going to get bit.  Pick up someone else’s offence and… well you get the picture.

There is a simple way to deal with offence that can  actually change your life.  Learn to forgive everybody all the time.  Really, it is a decision.  I have been doing it for years.  Even if someone says something really hurtful, and trust me they do (you should read my mail bag) I have learned to forgive everybody all the time.  It is completely freeing!  You don’t lose a moments sleep planning a murder you will probably never commit anyway.  If more people would live by this simple principle our world would be much better place.

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16 Responses to NEVER GRAB A DOG BY IT'S EARS

  1. Isaac says:

    That picture of that dog sets a negative stereotype of dogs as being aggressive! I am incredibly offended on behalf of all dogs. :)

  2. Gord says:

    I absolutely agree, and have tried to live that way since I learned about
    agàpe. Have you preached on the word agàpe, Pastor Mark? It’s a fascinating subject to teach. I actually think of forgiveness as a rather selfish behavior because I previously thought of forgiving as something you do for the other person, it’s actually essential for you to do for yourself. It allows you to move on and hold no bitterness. It doesn’t hurt for them to hear that from you either. My question would be, should we verbally forgive someone who has not asked for forgiveness? Or are we just being holier than thou? ✞

  3. Mark Hughes says:

    I rarely verbally forgive those who haven’t asked. “I forgive you for being such an idiot”. See, doesn’t work real well. You just forgive in your heart and move on with them like it never happened. In fact what I am really saying is, don’t bother being offended in the first place!

  4. RACHEL BLACK says:

    I REALLY FIND THAT TRUE ABOUT FORGIVING EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME. IT IS TRUE, IT HELPS SET YOU FREE. THERE IS A BIBLE VERSE, I FORGET WHICH ONE, BUT IT SAYS THAT IF YOU DON’T FORGIVE THEN YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WILL NOT FORGIVE YOU. I THINK THAT IS THE BEST WAKE UP CALL.

    PASTOR MARK, I REALLY ENJOY YOUR SERMONS. I APPRECIATE HOW YOU SAY IT IN A WAY THAT I CAN UNDERSTAND. ALSO, I REALLY LIKE HOW YOU INCLUDE LAUGHTER IN YOUR MESSAGES.

    GOD BLESS,
    RACHEL

  5. Rob S. says:

    @ Rachel…

    Ohh so many supporting verses…

    “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
    Matthew 6:14-16 (NKJV)

    and

    “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
    Matthew 18:35 (NKJV)

    also…

    Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
    Colossians 3:13 (NKJV)

    and

    Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
    Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)

    This message is so fundamental in life… Bitterness and Unforgiveness is often the root SIN of much physical sickness and turmoil in life… Let us forgive one another of everything immediately! That is my idea of one Great Kingdom to dwell in!

    Great Message Pastor Mark

  6. Karen says:

    Very good message! Forgiving can be hard to do sometimes, but absolutely necessary. And BTW, I love your sermons and “Church of the Rock” is my favorite show on TV! Hopefully my comment will cancel some of the bad ones you get…take care.

  7. Steve says:

    I think forgiving people is great and I’ve had to learn this the hard way in alot of situations till the Lord finally pounded it into my heart or rather He allowed me to get pounded into submission. Now I know that forgiving people is the only way to live. Forgiveness is not easy sometimes expecially if you have trouble with anger. It could take some really long prayers and alot of Bible reading. Pastor Mark It is awesome that you preach a message of forgiveness and love. May God bless your sermons and fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit.

  8. Karen says:

    Sometimes a person needs to be brutally honest when dealing with other people. People may not like what you have to say, but often they NEED to hear what you have to say….
    Thanks Mark for your honesty….never be afraid to hit the nail on the head!

  9. jan says:

    Thanks Pastor Mark!
    I am sooo relieved that I don’t have to verbally forgive the idiots.:)

  10. Stephanie says:

    Pastor Mark,
    This is one of my favorite websites and I enjoy reading your blog and other people’s comments. I haven’t written comments on a blog before, but for whatever reason, I have a strong desire to this time.

    Thank you so much for everything that you do. I love your sermons and I too like the way that you put everything into perspective so that I can understand the word of God, which in turns helps me with my relationship with Him.

    We live in such a negative society and unfortuneately some people focus on the negative because they are programmed that way. I used to be that way. Now, I am too busy trying to take the log out of my own eye before I can begin to even look at the splinter in someone else’s eye. This is what I think, if I focus too much on the negative then I am giving the Power over to Satan. I choose to look at the Positive in people and keep the Power where it belongs. Jesus already fought this battle and won. It isn’t mine to fight.

    Although you are close to God, you are infact not God. You are human and you are entitled to your opinion like the rest of us. This is called mutual respect! I respect your opinion, just because it is your opinion doesn’t make it right or wrong, it is your opinion. I know that your opinions are not meant to be hurtful and that you are only trying to help us understand the word of God and helping to build the kingdom of God.

    I can see those folks that are not on that same journey as you or who may not be at the same place as you on their journey may in fact become offended. I want to one day be in the kingdom of God therefore, I listen very carefully to what you have to say – God promised that He would send me a teacher, helper, guider, etc. which is the “Holy Spirit” and I believe Pastor Mark that the Holy Spirit speaks through you.

    From my experience, if a person gets offended by something that you say Pastor Mark they know deep down inside that they need to address it and make some changes and some people don’t like to admit that they were wrong or that they need to change. Often too, they know that they need help, but they are too afraid to ask or they don’t know where to go for help and if they find that help they also need to have continued outreach to assist in the transformation of the change.

    Do you know how many times that I was told that I needed to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and all I had to do was just say this one little prayer and my life would be saved and everything would be okay. Do you know how many times I said that little prayer and how many times after saying that little prayer, I often asked, now what and there were no answers, no direction until you sent me the DVD called “Word for Word”. I thank you for caring enough for me a total stranger but united through Jesus to want to teach me right from wrong so that I too can experience the Kingdom of God, not only in the after life, but now in the present.

    Also, I think that the “Church of the Rock’s” Visions and Values says it all. You are walking the walk, talking the talk, and in my opinion you do not have to apologize. People need to focus on the good you and your ministry is doing. You are doing God’s work and if God is for you who can be against.

    God has given us freedom of choice, people choose to watch or attend Church of the Rock, when you go on the road to speak, people choose to attend that ministry as well. If I don’t like something on TV I chose to walk away or I choose to not watch it. Pastor Mark you must be doing something right because your church airs on TV, which is not cheap, therefore, you must have alot of supporters, lots of people attend your church in Winnipeg and when you go on the road I have seen the venues packed.

    Pastor Mark you are awesome, every time I watch the Church of the Rock I see the Holy Spirit just beaming through you. Please continue to shine God’s light through you and your ministry. You have given me light in my darkest moments. I praise God every day for you and your ministry. I tell people all of the time to watch Church of the Rock.

    God’s continued blessings to you, your family and your ministry.
    Good luck and Take care.

    PS. Final thought – God asks us to forgive – what part of this don’t we understand, end of story. As for those who have offend(ed) us – Jesus taught us to pray, forgive those who have trespassed against us, end of story. However, easier said than done at times, and when I find it hard to forgive I ask God to help me forgive. I can’t expect God to forgive me when I am not willing to forgive others, just seems hyprocritical. Jesus said it best, Forgive them Father, they know not what they have done.

  11. Steve says:

    People need to forgive but I’ve also learned another side where I’ve offended someone and they are really hurt by it and I don’t have an ounce of care or mercy for that person. God has also pounded this one into me where He is softening my heart towards people and understanding that they have a deep hurt in them where no one has ever been kind to them. They need me to be that person who will be kind and merciful even though they are lashing out at me. Sometimes we have to suffer in order to help someone that can’t see straight.

  12. Joy says:

    Hi, Pastor Mark, I agree wholeheartedly with you, we do live in a hyper-sensitive world. I try to see the laughter in times of stress, it really helps me, and your laughter and stories help so many people, you can’t be worried about those who don’t agree. You make church fun, so thank you for that. I will try to forgive everyone for everything-not sure that I can, but it does affect my health, more than the person I am upset or hurt by. Keep up the excellent work!!!

  13. Concerned says:

    I’ve never attended COR nor would I. I would be concerned that on any given Sunday some aspect of my life would be used as the butt of a joke, for a good laugh.

    I find it hard to look in scripture and see where it is ok to use the dignity of others in a disparaging way in order to make a point.
    Speaking truth and offending some goes with the territory…of course you will offend those who don’t want to hear about their own depravity….but depravity is a very different thing than someone’s blood line or religious traditions.

    You are held to a higher standard Pastor Mark….even though my letter will be written off as just ‘one of those negative Ned’s’ I think it is important for you to weigh your words from the pulpit carefully…. rightly dividing the word of truth, and not saying things that have no biblical grounding whatsoever.

    I pray that you have a strong team of advisors and that you respect their input, feedback and admonitions and that you consistently offer your words before the Lord for his guidance and input over any preference you have for hearing your own voice.

  14. mike gagnon says:

    hi Mark! G-D bless you,it reminds me os the prverb,i hope from the nkjv,where two monks crossing dangerous waters,one helps a nice lady carries her accross and his soul-friend in christ or hopefully blood brother(rare to be best friends,twinning,thats another one)/G-d after an hour,why did you help her or something,was he jealous of a ‘brownie point with G-D? or was it the woman,like if its an insult or not lashon ha’ra (evil tongue) or unecessary prolongued thoughts linger sometimes for NO reason,and its sad,he just wanted to help normally,could have been a child or old man…it doesnt matter. maybe he should have carried his brother accros too,remember that one,i liked it. you know? like you said forget the small stuff,dont make it into something big and evil then they forget what started it firstwise….we could go on. let the spirit take over,that of the father in heaven and everywhere of Abraham,Jacob,Issac, King David,and King Jesus. bless you all with this peace. calm of mind and heart to the soul.

  15. ” But He was peirced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are HEALED….and the lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”…..

    On any given sunday morning…..in my quiet moments- in the presence of my television screen- I feel the healing process begin!….Thank you, and may the light of the Lord shine brightly- on you forever!

    “You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your word to renew me.”
    Psalm 119:114

    With heartfelt admiration and spiritual delight-Roseanna

  16. hello,
    I read all the articles here before i post!!So this is really great and awesome articles here..And i will forward this to article to all my friends..

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