If you are one who takes offense at racial epithets, mean-spirited remarks, lies that are told on you, the demeaning tone of a supervisor, or even the Word of God that doesn’t conform with what you’ve been taught or believe, then what I am about to share is for you. It is my prayer that this entry will help shore up breaches in your spirit through which the devil is able to shoot his fiery darts of offense.
First of all, offense is a trap of the devil designed to wound, trip up, cause one to stumble and thus impede spiritual progress. The Greek noun translated offence is SKANDOLON. W.E. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines this word as, “The name of the part of a trap to which the bait is attached, hence, the trap or snare itself,…….In the New Testament, SKANDOLON is always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way. Sometimes the hindrance is in itself good, and those stumbled by it are the wicked.”
When I read this definition, I immediately thought of a mouse trap. The bait is attached to a mechanism that’s spring-loaded. When the unsuspecting mouse goes for the bait, the spring is released and the mouse gets caught in the trap. It is imperative to realize that the offense itself, no matter what it is, is a trap and the desire to give in to one’s emotions to feel hurt and bruised is the bait. Once the bait is taken, you will be nursing your wounds and out of commission as far as your destiny is concerned until you’re healed. Some people never get over the wounds of an offence and are useless to the kingdom of God. They carry their wounds to their graves.
Imagine, if you will, a world class distance runner who endures an arduous training regimen over a period of several months and sometimes years to prepare for one race. He is mentally focused on his goal of winning. At the sound of the gun, he’s off. As the race progresses, he allows nothing to enter his mind that would distract his focus; then suddenly he feel a tingling sensation in his thigh. He tries to ignore it but as he continues to run, he pulls up lame with a torn hamstring. He will never finish the race and all his hopes and dreams of winning are dashed. In a similar manner, when we take offense, we become hurt, wounded, distracted, and unable to proceed spiritually. In most cases, the offended individual will lose hours of sleep wondering why someone said what they said about them; or worse, they try to defend themselves against an accusation or a perceived wrong, never realizing that valuable time and energy is being redirected from the race at hand to drama that has nothing to do with his or her destiny. They have in effect pulled up lame in the race of life.
Take a look at Psalms 119:165 – Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. Nothing shall cause them to stumble. It is not God’s will that his people take offense at the provocations we face every day, but in the event that immature Christians are offended/stumble, Jesus said in Matthew 18:6,7,8,9 – 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. It is a very dangerous thing to be one by whom offenses come. (7) Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! (8) 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. (9) 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.
Does this mean cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye literally? I think not. If you have a problem with lust and an attractive woman who is seductively dressed comes into view, are you to pluck your eyes out? One sister said, “Just turn your head the other way.” That might work, but there is no place on the planet where there aren’t beautiful women dressed seductively. Further, not looking at a beautiful woman does not deal with a heart full of lust.
Here is my take on these scriptures: Again, in Psalms 119:165 we are told that when we love the Word of God, we have great peace and nothing offends us. The key to not being offended or stumbling is the love of the Word. If there is a propensity in any of you to stumble at the provocative images of the opposite gender that bombards us on a daily basis, then focus your spiritual eyes on the Word and by doing so, you will remove the cause for stumbling and, in effect, pluck out your natural eyes. Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? Why didn’t he say “look upon a maid?” Our thoughts are inextricably connected to our eyes and our attention. Whatever thoughts you allow sanctuary in your mind, good or bad, your eyes will go where ever those thoughts lead you. Unfortunately, Many Christians stumble in this area.
Another kind of offense that causes stumbling comes in the form of insults, a lies, or abusive language. A perfect example is found in 2 Samuel 16:5 – 14: (5) And when king David came to Bahurim, behold, thence came out a man of the family of the house Saul, whose name was Shimei, the son of Gera: he came forth and cursed still as he came. (6) And he cast stones at David, and at all the servants of king David: and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. (7) And thus said Shimei when he cursed, come out, come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial. (8) The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief because thou art a blood man. (9) Then said Abishi the son of Zeruiah unto the king, why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head. (10) And the king said, what have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah. So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, curse David. Who shall then say, wherefore hast thou done so?
This is an amazing story. Most of us would have given Abishi the green light to take off this guy’s head but instead, David refused to take offense. He chose rather to place himself in God’s hand and, by faith, walk out the trial in which he now found himself. (vs 12) “It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day.” When you refuse to be offended and put yourself in a position of humility, you bring God’s presence into a situation to vindicate you. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. Isaiah 53:17.
Finally, I would remind you of the struggles of the early Christian martyrs. They were scourged, and tortured in such inhumane ways that it really beggars description.
If they could refuse to take offense in order to finish their race, how much more should we be willing to immerse ourselves in God’s word to such an extent that offenses no longer bother us. They become like water on a duck’s back.