“Then said to the disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!’” (Luke 17:1 NKJ)
Offense is a trap. The Greek word for offense is skandalon which means a baited trap. Gossip is one of the worst kinds of bait. Don’t take the bait!
[Jesus said,] “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Math 11:6)
John the Baptist almost stumbled because Jesus didn’t do what he thought Jesus should do.
Four kinds of offenses:
- Imaginary – Where you are paranoid, thinking everybody is out to get you. People don’t focus on you anywhere near as much as you think they may.
- Accidental – Very often they don’t even know they offended you; it wasn’t done on purpose.
- Intentional – This one is malicious, where in fact they did it to offend you and hurt you.
- Offended at Truth – This is where hardness of heart has set in and that person becomes angry and offended at biblical truth. (Matthew 15:7-12).
Four things that make you vulnerable to offense:
- Personal Preference – “Go and wash in the Jordan…. Naaman became furious…” And almost missed out on his miracle of healing. (2 Kings 5:10-11).
- Personal Advantage – It looks like I am getting the short end of the stick.
- Personal Opinion – The Pharisees became offended because of an unhealthy desire to be right.
- Personal Convenience – “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25).
Some things that can cause stumbling:
- The misconduct of someone you trusted; they betrayed you or hurt you. A Judas that abused or misused you and took advantage of you.
- Prophecies that are given and don’t come to pass. Don’t despise prophecy, but judge it according to the Word and the spirit in which it was given. ( 1Thess 5:20-21)
- A claimed or promised healing that is not fully realized (Mark 11:23-24).
- Persecution for the Word’s sake. “And they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. “Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble” (Mark 4:17).
Not everybody is going to love you because you are a born again, tongue talking, Bible believing, devil chasing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit empowered, church loving, tithe giving, on fire for the Lord Christian. You may lose family, friends, jobs, contracts, finances or your life or the life of someone close to you (Mark 10:29-30).
You have to make a decision to forgive before anything ugly ever happens to you. Remember the end of the Lord’s Prayer: “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 6:14-15). Forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. Forgiveness has little to do with the other person; rather it is to release you (John 20:23).
Forgiveness is one thing reconciliation is another. “Take heed to yourselves, if your brother sins against you rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3).This passage is talking about going beyond forgiveness to reconciliation. Reconciliation without repentance is like giving them a license to sin and you set yourself up for more hurt. In the parable of The Prodigal Son the father was not looking for a returning rebel but a repentant son. Be careful not to be so mercy motivated that you bring people back into close fellowship too soon.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
We all need forgiveness and therefore have to be humble enough to ask for it. We all need mercy and need to be merciful enough to give it when others have hurt us.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).
Let us go beyond offense and forgiveness to reconciliation and possible restoration of friendships!
Yours for the Restoration and Revival of God’s People,
Dr George Hill