The word “offence” is used in the KJV of the Bible in one form or another some 73 different times. Out of those occurrences, 23 are found in the Old Testament and 50 in the New Testament. In the New Testament, the vast majority of these instances are from a word which means to cause another to stumble. Sometimes the word refers to clear cut cases where sin is involved (cf. Matthew 13:41, Romans 4:25, Romans 16:17). Sometimes the word refers to offences that cannot be avoided due to preaching God’s truth (cf. Matthew 13:57, 15:12, John 6:61, Galatians 5:11, 1 Peter 2:8). Sometimes the word refers to matters of personal preference that others believe to be sinful (Romans 14:20, 21, 1 Corinthians 8:13, 10:32). Basically, the word means to cause another to be upset or troubled through either our words or our actions whether justified or not. The definition, however, is not the problem; we generally know when we have been offended. The question we need to ask is: what do we need to do when we offend and are offended? First, it ought to be mentioned that the Christian is going to live his life in a way to try to unnecessarily avoid offending others. This principle is found in Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” The Christian’s desire is to be at peace with all so that God’s truth may be taught and Christ seen in his life and this involves avoiding any actions or words that would unnecessarily offend others. Paul wrote, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed” (2 Corinthians 6:3). This is also the underlying principle behind avoiding actions that cause someone else to do something that they believe is sinful. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:32, “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.” In the context of these passages the offence is a matter of personal preferences that would cause any individual to sin or reject the gospel. Certainly we never ought to allow our own personal tastes to hinder one from being saved! So, the Christian must live in a way that avoids unnecessary offences. Second, it is quite impossible to live the life of a Christian and not offend someone by doing that which is right! There is no wholesale prohibition in the scriptures to ever offend anyone regardless of what the circumstance is. In fact, the scriptures presume that many are going to be offended by the teaching and preaching of the gospel. Jesus offended people by telling them the truth (Matthew 13:57, 15:12); Jesus even offended his own disciples (John 6:61)! Yet not once did Jesus apologize for telling the truth. In fact, in Matthew 15:12, after his disciples told him that the Pharisees had been offended by him, he said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:13-14). The Christian ought not to be concerned about offending someone because he is teaching or preaching the truth so long as that truth is being taught in love (Ephesians 4:15). Third, another cold and hard fact is that we are going to say or do something wrong that causes someone else to be offended. James wrote, “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). In this case, when we commit sin and do something wrong, it ought to be obvious that we ought to apologize and ask for forgiveness both from God and the one whom we offended (see 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16). It ought to be the hallmark of the Christian life that very few are offended with him, even of those who are opposed to the teaching of the gospel. Let us make this our aim and put into practice a life void of offence. When we do offend, let’s make sure that we quickly recognize it and make the appropriate corrections. Next we want to look at what we are to do when we are offended. The Christian will not find himself only offending, but also being offended. It is equally important that we understand how we are to behave when we are offended as when we offend. Perhaps the first question that we need to ask is this: ought we to be offended? There is a difference between an objective sin (one that is against God) and a matter of personal preference wherein one is offended. If the offence is merely a matter of opinion, then one need not necessarily take offence at such personal matters. One may, in that regard, simply overlook such things and move on. When I was a boy, my parents would wrap Christmas presents just from “Santa” in brown paper. This had a tremendous effect upon me as a child and I remember being so thrilled to see those presents wrapped in brown paper. I decided to do that with my children. Then, one year on Christmas morning, one of our relatives commented on the “ugly brown paper.” I was offended. How could this relative be so insensitive as to not understand how precious my childhood “Santa” presents were? Then I realized that this relative had no idea about my childhood. So I did nothing. It wasn’t worth discussing. It was merely a personal preference in the first place and didn’t need to be brought up. I “forgave” this person and moved on. There are, however, some things which ought to lastingly offend the Christian. The Christian ought to be offended at sin. Why? Sin offends God (Psalm 51:4). Sin is the tool of Satan to tempt men to do evil (Matthew 4:1) and evil is offensive. The Christian has the obligation to stand against sin and Satan and fight (Ephesians 6:11, 13). Are we lovers of God or lovers of men (Galatians 1:10)? If we love God, then we will be offended at sin. The Christian also ought to be offended with those who are not offended at sin. Consider Romans 1:32; according to that verse, those who consent to sin are just as worthy of the same punishment as those who sin. The problem with many in our society today is that they have stopped being offended at sin. When that happens, they also stop fighting it. And when they stop fighting it, they succumb to it. There is a popular saying attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” To do something, we must first be offended. The Christian ought to be offended at those who commit sin and would cause him to commit sin (Romans 16:17, Revelation 2:14). This is not to say that we hate the individual person who does the sinning, but rather, that the sin that he does is repugnant to us. John tells us who the real culprit is, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.”
SICK AND/OR INJURED:
· Continue to remember James Harrison, Linda James, Jean Gause and Carl Lee. · Michael is at home and is having a hard time right now. Please pray that God will strengthen Michael and Barbara through this time. · Betty Hitchcock has been sick this past week. She is being sent to a doctor concerning her blood. We pray that she will receive a good report regarding this issue. EMAIL THE BULLETIN: We are now emailing and mailing the bulletin to those who would like a copy. If you know of anyone who would be interested, please let Patty know.
ELDERS AVAILABLE: The elders will be available this afternoon at 4:30 here at the building. If you have any concerns about anything or need to speak with them please be here at 4:30.
TEEN DEVOTIONAL TONIGHT: We will be meeting tonight following services with the teens. We ask that all teens be at the devotional tonight. We are going to be working on a special project and need everyone’s participation. We will be having finger foods, so please bring something to share.
PREPARED TO SHARE: The youth conference is coming up soon, we will be attending the event on Friday, May 25th and Saturday, May 26th. We will be not staying Saturday night due to the fact that several kids will be having finals that next week and will need to return home. More details will be following soon. If you have any questions about this please see Jessica.
SUMMER TEEN DEVOTIONS: We will be changing the teen devotionals this summer to a Thursday Night. The dates for these will be June 21st, July 19th and August 16th. If you are a parent of a teen and would be willing to host a devotional please see Jessica.
TO OUR VISITORS It is our sincere desire to help all men and women understand what God’s will is for their life. Here at the Alachua Church of Christ, we stand ready and willing to help you with any needs you may have. Here are just a few of the services we offer: Marriage Counseling, Family Counseling and Addiction Counseling, free audiotapes of any lesson and In-home Bible Study. Feel free to make your request know. Ask any member of the congregation.