I’m learning recently how common it is for people to want the very thing they are unwilling, or perhaps unable, to receive. People are fragile and easily offended. I am fragile and easily hurt or offended at times. I think we underestimate the power of Satan’s deception of offense. We use the word so often that it has lost it’s meaning. Being offended is much more than sitting back and sulking because something has been done to you or somebody has hurt your feelings. (Of course, real emotional and physical abuse takes place and that should be handled appropriately.) Being offended might appear, on the surface, to cause a person to retreat and move inward, but I think it actually does the opposite. I think it fuels a desire to be noticed, to be correct, to be affirmed…maybe not right away, but as the offense has time to fester it will become something much more than a hurt feeling. To be on the offense is to take action, to move forward, to get from one end of the field to another and score – it’s a proactive thing. Additionally, when people are offended they are usually blinded to the fact that they are actively moving into deeper areas of sin that affect those around them.
Poor communication about expectations of others can be very destructive. I am beginning to see and learn how relationships in the church and family gradually erode because of people being offended. And furthermore, I am beginning to understand how destructive people can be when they are the ones presenting the stumbling block that causes the offense or sin to take place in the hearts of others, often the ones they love. Satan has picked a sure winner to get under the skin of seemingly well-intentioned Christians as he creates ways for anger, bitterness, and mistrust to creep into the picture.
Jesus warns of offenses in Luke, chapter 17. This is what the NKJV has to say —
1 Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!
I am drawn to the second half of this verse – “…but woe to him through whom they do come.” Another version (NLT) says it this way, “…but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!”. In other words, it’s sin to be a stumbling block for somebody else. It is sinful when your behavior becomes a catalyst for another person’s sin. But what about the beginning of this verse? Here’s a question – what is your response to those who bring offense to you or do things that might cause you to stumble? It’s going to happen – do you become easily offended when somebody has not met your expectations? It is never a good decision if you choose be offended. Offended people will naturally offend others.
Jesus is clearly warning us that offense will happen and stumbling blocks will be placed in our way. People will do things that Satan will use to deceive you into sinful behavior. To become offended leads to anger, bitterness, mistrust, and betrayal. Unfortunately, this betrayal can take us to the point of ignoring God in the situation. I’ve seen people hold onto offense for years, this is so sad…and very destructive to the church.
Are you offended today? If so, you are probably causing others to stumble. As Christians we need to recognize this battle and move beyond petty offense and unclear expectation of others.
Do you seek love but have a hard time receiving it? Do you want a meaningful friendship somebody but find yourself not being able to approach that person as a friend? Perhaps you want your pastor to act a certain way toward you and you are frustrated that he’s not being relational or sensitive enough? Maybe your spouse is not showing you the affection you want or need or your children are being disrespectful to you? If this is happening I would say that it is likely you are offended and not dealing with this sin. You might be projecting the same sinful behavior toward the one who you think is acting poorly toward you! You might even be doing “the right thing” by telling an elder or ministry leader about the unmet expectation that you have for the other person. That is not the right thing to do, we just rationalize it sometimes because we want to have the solution in our own selfish way.
I’m praying that people in ministry, in local church settings, in families and among friends will see the damage that being offended causes. We need to take Jesus’ warning seriously and ask him to fill us with the power of the Holy Spirit in order to attack this subtle trick from Satan. Offense should not have any place in our lives as Christians. We need the Lord’s wisdom to discern the difference between a sin that has been committed against us compared to somebody’s behavior that we “think” has hurt us. Offenses will come, how will you respond?