CONQUER OFFENCE WITH THANKSGIVING
Offence harms both the offender and the offended. It turns hearts to stone and perverts the message of Christ.The one who offends is subject to judgement by God, and the one who is offended finds that it becomes a hindrance to their walk with God. Many people have left the church, or despised the church because of offence. Either someone has done something to them, they have felt unaccepted by the church, or there has been some kind of conflict in ideas or beliefs. How do we heal an offended heart without compromising on values?
First it is important to understand how we become offended. Indirect offence may come when our own ideals or views clash with those being promoted by different authorities, organisations or the church. Direct offence may come when something is said or directed specifically to us. Both cases can cause offence when we perceive an unfair attack on our character or abilities. Offence is intrinsically linked to judgement. Rebuke, however, must have truth and love. Rebuke and correction may offend, but it also has the ability to grow those who are humble enough to repent and change.
[Matthew 18:7] says:
“Woe to the world because of offences! For offences must come, but woe to that man by whom the offence comes!”
This passage relates to the one who causes an offence. The Greek word used for “offence” here is “skandalon –
σκάνδαλον“. It describes a snare, or temptation to sin. This passage is in the context of Jesus warning people how serious and dangerous temptation can be. He says that one who temps another believer to sin would be better off with a milestone around his neck, “drowned in the depth of the sea”. He also suggests that if an eye, or hand, or foot should cause us to sin, that it should be removed. This might seem like an extreme response, but Jesus is highlighting the danger of temptation. Temptation leads to sin, and sin leads to death and separation from God in eternity. Offence is specifically mentioned in this passage. Causing offence to another person is likened to temping them to sin. Why? By causing offence, or making another person offended, we cause them to sin, and may contribute to a hardening of their heart against Christ. Does this mean we should avoid all conflict and disagreement? No, this is not possible. At the very least, there will always be people who are offended by truth. However, we should be careful to pursue peace, be wary of spreading the seeds of bitterness, and be always prepared to forgive.
[Hebrews 12:14-15] – “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
[Proverbs 18:19] says:
“A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,
And contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
This passage refers to the one who is offended. The Hebrew word used for “offended” here is “pasha – פָּשַׁע“. It translates as “transgressed” or “wronged”. This proverb tells us that a brother who is wronged, or transgressed against, becomes “harder to win that a strong city”. Contentions, and strife are compared to “bars of a castle”. If we think about a battle situation, it takes much time, many men, and vast quantities of supplies to win a strong city. There are negotiations, battles won, battles lost, advances, retreats, seige, surrender and a great cost in lives that are destroyed. A brother offended can still be won, but the cost may be great. If we are offended, we allow ourselves to be imprisoned by strife. We cannot yield to the grace of God. We find ourselves struggling to forgive, and we find ourselves unable to fully experience the love and freedom found in Christ. How can we respond then, when we are wronged? [Romans 12:17-18] gives us this advice:
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
One thing that can conquer offence, is thanksgiving. [2 Thessalonians 5:15-18] says:
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Let’s conquer offence with our thanksgiving!
- Give thanks to God for who He is.
- Give thanks to God for what He has done in our lives.
- Give thanks to God for others.
When we do this, we see God as who He is, we see ourselves as He sees us, and we see others as God sees them. When we have this change in our spiritual sight, we can leave judgement to God, and learn love. We can heal our wounded hearts, and help others to heal theirs. We can bury the city of offence that has for too long, kept many in darkness. We can be that “city on a hill” that shines the light of Christ to the nations.