I am currently thinking and praying a lot about being offended. It is not something I have really got my head and heart around before in the way I am praying to now and I hope it will make as much of a difference to you as it has to me over the last month or so.
It started with my wife being recommended a book – The Bait of Satan by John Bevere – which I have found totally compelling. If you buy it is it best to get the 20th anniversary edition as it also has a study guide and other improvements but either way it is a great book.
I have realised that I am often trapped by Satan into this sin of offence and so I am going through the book again trying to really get the principles deeply in my life and the resulting reflections are what this series is going to be about.
The first scripture to think about is:
“Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.” Luke 17:1 NIV
I had never noticed the first bit of this verse as I have always focussed on the ‘woe to anyone’bit at the end.
The NASB is even clearer in with its translation:
“He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!”Luke 17:1 NASB
Jesus is saying that stumbling blocks are INEVITABLE! The Greek develops this as the word for stumbling block (skandalon) originally means ‘the trigger of a trap, that is the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim”. So this then developed to mean an ‘offense’ or something that triggers a negative cause-and-effect relationship. I guess we would call it a hot button that causes us to react in a negative way.
So to bring it together, Jesus is saying that it is totally inconceivable that you and I will live without traps being set by Satan and that the trigger will be when we get offended and react negatively to that.
This can happen in almost any situation but it is particularly challenging with people that:
1.Are closest to us – “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.” Psalm 55:12-14 NIV
2.We expect better from them because they are in the Church -“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV
In fact the closer the relationship the greater the opportunity for taking offence and the greater the significance if we cannot deal with the resulting hurt and barriers. Despite this though it so often comes as a surprise and many of us are ill equipped to deal with it.
Perhaps take a minute to write down the names of people you feel offended by, the ones you avoid a little or a lot and start to pray for the barriers to come down in a safe and Godly way.