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Are You Offence-Proof?




THE PURPOSE OF OFFENCES

 

By Penn Clark

 

Jesus taught that it is impossible to go through life without offences happening to us. They are a fact of life. They always occur, whether it is intentional or not. Jesus also said that while offences are inevitable, there are consequences for the one through whom they come.

 

Offence come from two sources. We can see this played out in an exchange where Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him, opposing His going to the cross. Jesus looked at Peter but spoke to the devil, who was temporarily using the disciple to offend Jesus. Peter was just a pawn, but it must have made his eyes water to hear what Jesus said.

 

The purpose of an offense is to make us throw us off, make us stumble, become hesitant, mistrusting, or withdrawn into ourselves instead of being free, simple-hearted, and full of faith, and being others centered. They make us become something we are not. Naturally, we are open and trusting, but now we must be more guarded against being duped, disillusioned, or demoralized.

 

If you couple this concept with what Jesus said about not offending little ones, we can see what the enemy is after. Jesus said that if someone offends a little one, which could be a child or a young believer, there will be severe consequences. Children are born with faith. It comes naturally to them. They must learn not to believe. They come open and trusting. They believe easily and respond freely. Their faith is simply and real. It is delightful to watch them in worship, praying and prophesying, catching vision, and expressing their faith without fear. Jesus so delighted in this behavior that He told His disciples that it should be their life-long goal to become more like little children. We can’t get very far in this Kingdom-life without doing this, because each experience requires simple, straightforward faith, unencumbered by reason or heavy with logic. So, you can see how dastardly it would be for someone to come along and do something that shuts down our openness and innocence.

 

These days, few people have seen a millstone, much less had one put around their neck. There was a time when almost every village had a mill with two big stones grinding flour. Worn down stones were often strewn about. Our loss of familiarity with this can dull the impact of what Jesus’ was saying. If He were teaching it today, perhaps He would say, “...it would be better if the offender ran a chain through a truck tire, while tying the other end around his neck, then throwing himself off an overpass.”

 

That is how serious creating a deliberate offence is.

 

Once a person shuts down their child-like faith or openness it is almost impossible to get them to open up again. It requires such effort to intentionality regain some level of trust, that many don’t bother. While we may not ever become as trusting again, or as responsive, we should be able to learn to trust our heavenly Father enough to gain a measure of our freedom back.

 

Once we have been offended, we tend to file it away so that it becomes part of our inner grid of discernment, causing us to say within ourselves, “I won’t let that happen again. Next time I won’t be duped. When I see it coming, I will protect myself or warn others to do the same before anyone gets hurt”.

 

We will also avoid people and places that remind us of the offence. For many of us, if it happened in church that is the last place we want to go. If it happened by someone in authority, it will be difficult to allow ourselves to be under any kind of authority again, all to the detriment of our spiritual growth, which is also part of the devil’s strategy.

 

Our discernment becomes part of our defense mechanism. While I don’t recommend turning it off, we do need to dial it back sometimes, because it will work against us, especially when it comes to experiencing new spiritual things, or new doctrines, or being exposed to new people. If we are going to move forward, grow, and change, we will need to learn how to trust the Lord as a little child, without our discernment acting like a mill stone around our own neck, holding us back.

 

TEXT TO STUDY

 

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-3)

 

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6-7)

 

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:1-2)

 

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)

 

We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

 

Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:22-23)

 

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