Jesus said, “it is impossible that no offense should come” (Luke 17:1).
It is not a question of opportunity to be offended, but what your response will be.
The Bait of Satan, John Bevere
The Trap of Offense
If we feed on offense, nurture it in our heart, it becomes deadly. It’s fruit are insults, attacks, wounding, division, separation, broken relationships, betrayal, and backsliding. Oftentimes, those who are offended are clueless of their condition. Satan is very effective in causing us to focus on ourselves and our wounds. This becomes a deadly trap of destruction, to ourselves and to others.
The Most Likely Source of Offense
Oftentimes we take offense most severely from those we are closest to. The divorce rate is testimony to that truth! In my own work as a sidewalk counselor, those who anger me the most are NOT the opposition, but fellow believers who insult or devalue or challenge what I do. Meanwhile, unity is destroyed and our effectiveness with it.
The Danger of Dwelling in Offense
A root of bitterness quickly takes hold in an offended soul. While there may be truth in your hurt from the offense, pride is often the source of a hardened heart that prevents repentance and healing. Those who take offense view themselves as victims. They often refuse to see any part they may have played. They view themselves as innocent. As a result, they withhold forgiveness and feel justified in doing so. Whether or not we have been mistreated, we do not have permission from God to hold on to an offense.
When we blame others and become defensive of our own innocence, we become blind to our own faults. The sin of offense prevents us from seeing clearly and repenting.
Offense Leads to Terrible Consequences
“And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:10-13).
We set ourselves up for offense when we have expectations of others and they fail us. If on the other hand, we can relinquish expectations and love as God loves, anything given is a BLESSING and not something OWED. Our love cannot be based on others living up to our expectations. The more we expect, the greater the offense when they disappoint us. As the scripture above illustrates, offense gives rise to betrayal, hatred, deception, lawlessness, and abandonment of the love for God.
Offended People Can Find Scripture to Support Their Position WITHOUT the Love of God
While the offensive action may be real, and may be ungodly, and even can be supported as scripturally wrong. The offended person operating without the love of God is a destructive force. Offended people justify and puff themselves up with pride and legalism rather than repenting of their unforgiveness; thus, a progressive spiral downward of a wrong, followed by offense, followed by bitterness and unforgiveness, leads to anger, disunity and even destruction of a worthy ministry.
Offense Leads to Betrayal
The progression in the Matthew 24 passage is offense, betrayal, hatred. The only possible antidote to this progression is true repentance, not only from the offender, but from those who harbor offense in their heart. Rather than “protecting our rights,” we need to remember the admonition of Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing be from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
The Model for Dealing with Offense
Jesus is the supreme example of one who could have taken offense but chose a better path instead. He was sinless, unjustly accused, brutally punished for crimes He did not commit, and tortured to death with NO justification.
How did He respond?
He prayed that God would forgive them. He withheld His unlimited power to destroy them and instead offered love, forgiveness and salvation. He silently endured without any attempt to justify Himself. He took NO offense in the midst of horrific injustice and unbearable trauma. He completely trusted God’s plan, even when it was unspeakably painful.
Humankind, dead in their trespasses and sin, was offered a path to life and redemption.
Instead of Offense, Consider These
- Trust God to right wrongs.
- Love others and forgive.
- Learn obedience in trials.
- Do not blame others for your struggles or insufficiencies.
- God alone holds your destiny, not others.
- Do what God has called you to do.
- Do not hinder His work with your bitterness or offense.
- Do not let hope die in your heart no matter what you face.
For excellent in-depth study of this topic, read The Bait of Satan by John Bevere.andA