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Offenses place us at a crossroads. We will go either go in a positive or negative direction, forward or backwards. We will become rooted, grounded, and established in Christ, or we will fall away.
They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. (Luke 8:13)
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecutionariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. (Mark 4:16,17)
offend > Greek – skandalizo > KJV – offend 28, make to offend 2
– to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaph. to offend
Because of the great damage that can be done through offenses, God threatens those who cause “little ones” to stumble with great woe.
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:6-9)
The opportunity to fall away is elevated when we are hurt by the actions of others. Often the pain we experience is not only because of what another has done, it is because of what they haven’t done. They have failed us in some way. The have fallen short of our expectations. They have disappointed us.
John the Baptist was once the biggest supporter of Jesus. But as he lay in jail, the news he received of Christ’s ministry disappointed Him.
And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Luke 7:19-23)
It is possible to begin the Christian life in joyous faith, but through disappointment we can have “second thoughts” about continuing. The blessed are those who overcome offenses and do not stumble and fall away. They may face great disappointment and anger. They are vulnerable to develop a wounded and diseased soul. But if they will be taught of God they will have great peace, soundness of heart, and NOTHING shall cause them to stumble and fall away.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isaiah 54:13)
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165)
An overcoming life is a life of forgiveness and forbearance. We forgive offenses. We forbear offensiveness. Offenses give us the opportunity to grow in grace and increase what “lies within us” of the Spirit of Christ.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
Offenses place before us a stumblingblock or steppingstone. They allow us to know the Lord in a greater way and have His love be perfected in us. As the love of God is perfected in us, we will not stumble, no matter what offense comes our way.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:3-11)
We grow in the love of Christ as we understand that those who are hurtful are blind and yet in darkness. Jesus did not hate those who hurt Him. He prayed for them, and held out hope that they would change. He did not want His disciples to be offended by those who would persecute and afflict them. He desired that they would see them through the same lens He did.
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:1-3)