And anger shot through me in an instant, as he stood there making fun, and all I could think about was depositing his front teeth down the back of his throat…..but I am getting ahead of the story. I had a lesson recently taught to me by the Lord this last week that was 27 years in the making. The lesson dealt with offending another believer. This time I thought I was the offended, before I was the offender.
I have this old tattered Bible called Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible. It is a Bible that was first published in 1963 by Finis Jennings Dake. It contains a concordance, notes, comments and was a poor preacher’s commentary many years ago. When I first started in the ministry, my father handed me his Dake’s Bible and said “Son I want you to have this, I have never been a great preacher, maybe you can do more with this that I did”. You see, my father always pastored very small churches, churches that could not afford to pay a decent salary. He always had to work a job and be a pastor. Growing up, I saw him spend many years of his life in Mexico as a missionary, sacrificing everything for the ministry, but I never saw him without that Bible. I promised him I would always keep it with me. I had watched my dad preach every sermon of his life from that Bible; to me it was a gift of a great price. I remember first opening it and being amazed at all the notes and comments in it from his decades of his service to the Lord, it was the first time I had ever held it.
And when I first started preaching, over 30 years ago, I used to use it a lot. It has notations and comments that explain particular words in the Hebrew or Greek, and long before there was an internet it used to come in pretty handy. But over the years as I grew in the Lord, I found there were some notations and comments that I saw different from Dake, we differed some theologically, but I still carried it with me every time I preached as I had promised my father that I would. I remember preaching at a large convention with tens of thousands in attendance, and my father being there. I remember after the service as I stood holding the Dakes, he said to me “I think that Bible just preached to more people tonight than I have in my whole ministry. He was proud I was preaching using his Bible and I was proud to have it”. I always have been.
I still carry it with me every time I preach, but seldom read from it, as I can’t see the text and I always print or write the verses I am going to use. I get them almost always off the internet and I use many different translations (sorry to all the KJV only folks pray for me) from NIV to the Message, and yes including the KJV. So to make a long story short, I am a friend’s house, and yes I had my Dakes with me, and we are having some snacks and fellowship and just before I am about to leave his wife holds up this big old heavy black Bible. She says”Anybody know who this belongs to”? My friend walks over takes a look at the Bible, takes it and in front of everyone laughing says, “A Dakes, OMG, I can’t believe anybody even has one of these anymore. It’s full of mistakes and outdated, full of……and I honestly don’t remember the rest of what he said, as my mind went black. That was because anger shot through me in an instant, as he stood there making fun of my most prized possession, the faith of my father, all I could think about was depositing his front teeth down the back of his throat… but honestly I wanted to give him a piece of my mind.
But the Holy Spirit grabbed a hold of me, and calmed me and I said its mine, thank you. I took the old Dakes, and smiled and thanked everyone and said goodbye and went to my car. And as I sat there for some reason tears welled in my eyes, and I was taken aback by my own emotion. I consider myself kind of a tough guy and things do not bother me per say and I am not easily offended at all. I sat there trying to assess my feelings and why this had hurt my feelings so, when the Holy Spirit said to my heart, remember Edna? Edna, oh Edna…it had been years over 25 years ago when I had first met Edna.
Edna was this little old widow that used to go to the church where I was the youth pastor. She was a frisky little old lady with a lot of faith and a lot of energy. And she used to pray for everyone. She carried around this old tattered handkerchief and she would shake it as she prayed. If she was praying for their headache she would shake it by their head. If she was praying for a hurt foot, she would shake it by their foot. I watched her for about 3 months after I went to work at the church, and her hanky seemed to annoy me for some reason. I was young, lacking wisdom and…well let’s just say I was young and lacking wisdom. I walk over to Edna and I said something like, “Sister Edna why in the world do you keep shaking that nasty looking old hanky on people, it looks ridiculous”. Taken back, she stood up on her tippy toes, got her nose about one inch from mine and with a tone of anger in her voice said,”You foolish young man, don’t you know that there is power and healing through this handkerchief”. And she turned and whipped away from me. I was trying to follow after her so I could explain theology and doctrine concerning prayer and handkerchiefs to her with my bright 20 something mind, when her granddaughter took my arm and pulled me aside.
Her granddaughter explained that Edna was completely deaf well into her teens; she had never heard any sound. Her mother had taken her to a meeting of Aimee Semple McPherson, and they stood in a line for an hour and a half waiting to be prayed for. When Aimee prayed for Edna she had the handkerchief in her palms while she had held Edna’s ears in her hands, and when she said be healed in the name of Jesus, Edna heard the first sounds that she had ever heard. Aimee Semple McPherson asked her can you hear me Edna, she shook her head yes . Aimee, mother and Edna wept, and Aimee handed her handkerchief and said “keep this always as a reminder of the Lord’s healing power and your faith”. She went on to explain to me that for 60 years Edna has cared for that handkerchief and always used it in prayer for others that God would do for them what He had done for her. She always took special care of it and only took it out to pray for others. Because of her always shaking it, the hem at the edge had come out giving it the tattered look. I was assured it was her most prized possession. I remembered somehow feeling justified by what I had told Edna, because somehow I felt I could scripturally back it up. Edna never would speak to me after that and avoided contact with me at all cost.
Sitting there in my car, I understood Edna’s hanky. I mean, I had not thought about it in years. All of a sudden, I was fine. I knew that my brother had meant nothing derogatory about the Dakes. I knew he was my friend, he was just kidding around. I was taking the Bible and myself way too serious. I think many of us including myself are getting a little too spiritually haughty where we can’t even take a little spiritual kidding without acting all sideways and offended. Those among us who are mature in the Lord need always to take the higher ground and not project our personal thoughts and values over that of other believers less mature than ourselves. We should listen and in maturity teach and guide without offending and spitting out 200 verses to prove the other person wrong. After all they are just trying to seek and find Him too.
The Lord spoke to me and taught me that it does not matter if we are always “scripturally correct”. It does not matter if we can always prove our “point” in the scripture, as long as we are always right…WRONG. Let me borrow Edna’s hanky and shake it over our ears so they may be opened and hear what the Lord is saying to his church. I see and hear every single day in life Christian brothers and sisters spending way too much time arguing over unimportant pieces of doctrine and scripture trying to prove their point and prove themselves right.
We say and do things that are hurtful, judgmental, self-righteous and that are morally and spiritually wrong. Yes I said morally. We are not to knowingly offend our brothers and sisters especially the babes in Christ. What does Jesus think about that?
He said in Matthew 18:6, But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Like I said in the beginning I just learned a lesson 27 years in the making, be careful, think first before you flippantly say something regarding the habits, actions or practices of another believer as not to offend. And if someone does something that offends you; stop take a second, let the Lord speak to your spirit, shake Edna’s imaginary hanky over your heart for healing and forgive. Because I believe that most of the mistakes we make as believers are simply that, just mistakes. Satan wants you to think otherwise. That’s why we get all “spiritual” and “self-righteous” if we feel threatened or offended. Don’t do it…Forgive innocent mistakes. This is the way of the Body of Christ.