Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. So watch yourselves.” Luke 17:1&3 AMP
Offenses are a cunning tactic used by the enemy of our soul to cause hurt, confusion, and division. Offenses are like an infectious disease that has not been quarantined or treated. I will dare to say it is of epidemic proportion. Offenses have infiltrated every aspect of the church – from the pulpit to the front door; and it is carried outside the walls into every aspect of our lives. Some of the church’s harshest critics are people who have been offended. Proverbs 18:19 teaches us that, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
In Luke 17:1, Jesus told us that offenses would come. However, He also gave a warning to those who offend. This warning alone should cause us to carefully measure our words and actions. It is apparent, however, that we have not given much weight to Jesus’ warning. Perhaps, if we look at the damage caused by offenses, we would better understand how important it is that we do as instructed in Luke 17:3 – watch ourselves.
When we offend it causes pain. Selah. Yes, pause and think about that. We hurt that person. Depending on the relationship, that wound could go very deep. Most times the offender goes on their merry, self-righteous way really thinking he or she was right or justified in their actions – leaving behind a devastated soul. We cannot be okay hurting each other. There is no justification for wounding anyone, especially when our highest calling is to love. If we would pause before we speak or pray before we address an issue, I’m certain the Holy Spirit would direct us to tell the truth in love and with kindness. In fact, Colossians 3:12 instructs us to, “Clothe yourselves . . . [by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. (AMP).
If that wounded soul is not treated with love and understanding by the offender, the hurt quickly turns to resentment followed with contention. This leaves them unprotected and the enemy of their soul will launch an attack against them. James 3:16, AMP, “For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition), there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices. Where there is confusion, there is every evil work.” It starts a downward spiral in their lives, and we – the offenders – started it all. Unfortunately, in most cases, the offended one also becomes an offender, so the cycle is perpetuated.
This is not an all-inclusive scenario, but it is definitely one that is rampant. Let us, therefore, “Watch ourselves,” by being mindful of our actions and our words. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to, “Make your words count.” Let us be loving, gentle, kind and merciful towards one another just as our Father is towards us.
We cannot have a discussion on offenses without discussing forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key that breaks the cycle of offense.
“Faith for Forgiveness” coming next.