This is part 2 of the article Responding to Offenses.
People are not perfect, and to makes matters worse, saved people are not perfect. Jesus said in Luke 17:1, “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come.” He says emphatically that offences will come—note the word impossible. He is not condoning offences, nor justifying them. He is just stating fact. James 3:2 tells us that we are the source of many of these offences: “In many things we offend all.…” Why would saved people do this sort of thing?
Most offences come from words, not actions. We are sometimes guilty of insensitive or careless communication—speaking before we engage our brains or intending harm or insult. “Getting things off our chest” brings forth the bitterness from rebellious hearts. And of course, there is also unkind communication. Do we ever stop to consider Ephesians 4:29 and ask ourselves, “Will this minister grace to those who hear me?”
The word scandal comes form the the Greek word scandalizo which means “to trip, to snare or cause displeasure, occasion to fall, or to place a stumbling block.” The idea is that an offence is something (action, word, etc.) that hurts us, causes us to stumble in our Christian walk, and hinders our relationship with another person. It has an inescapable impact—it hits us in the gut and often the pain is deep.
The Bible promises that offenses will come, but could I submit to you that much of our problem with offenses lies with the person who ends up being offended. We allow ourselves to be offended, and these are some of the reasons revealed to us from God's Word:
Most of the time when people report they have been offended and yes, when I personally get offended – it is usually because I feel I have not been treated properly. Could it be that some of our offences come because we are a little too concerned for “number one” instead of looking out for others? God reminds us in Romans 12:3, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” The next time you feel slighted, ask yourself this question: “Is this offence I am feeling right now a prompting from the Holy Spirit or my flesh?”
The Word of God teaches that my peace, acceptance, joy, and satisfaction should come from God and His Word—not from other people. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalms 119:165). If I am depending upon you, or if you are depending upon me or someone else to make my life worth living and enjoyable, we have no hope.
Lack of Control
Asked yourself, “Who is in control?” Proverbs 25:28 tells us, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” We are undisciplined people—reactionary instead of pro-active. We let others control our spirit.
Picking up Someone Else’s Offense
As if we don’t have enough of our own problems, some of us become offended by picking up someone else’s offence. We take up the “cause” for our poor brother or sister. Let me caution here—you may not know all the circumstances surrounding their situation. If you do not know for yourself, and if you were not directly involved, leave it alone. “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.” (Proverbs 26:17).
Lack of Information
Sometimes we becomed offended by how things appear, not for how they really are. We never seem to get all the facts, ask the right questions, or give the benefit of the doubt. As Proverbs 18:13 says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.” We always assume the worse.
This world is filled with problems, and we as believers are so imperfect. We fail often and offend much. But many times we receive offence when none was intended because we pay too much attention to “me,” or because we take up other’s causes, or because we don’t get all the information before drawing our conclusions.
We all are so ripe to offend and be offended, and the potential for spiritual damage is great. We must be Spirit filled so that a small offense doesn’t destroy us, and those around us.