I need some help with the issue of offense. We have heard it said, “I don’t want to offend…” or “I didn’t want to offend…”
These are some scripture passages (KJV) that I found on the matter of offense:
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
This was said about JESUS:
And they were offended in him.
Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night:…
And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.
I believe that I am, for the most part, straight about the truth that the gospel does offend some people. Clearly, that is Bible. Further I believe that people, even Christians, can go to extremes where, readily, verbal “missiles” are launched with little or no restraint or love in the mix. The other extreme is when confrontation/correction is habitually avoided because “I don’t want to offend” is the order of the day.
When we are hurt when others righteously correct us, does that mean that we are offended? Or how is it defined when we are deeply wounded by necessary truth spoken to us? Another concern is the matter of striking a balance. When JESUS offends people, certainly, He always does it in love with balance. Progressively, I am learning to do it in accordance with Biblical practices where, in the past, I was more prone to throw restraint to the wind. Still, the matter challenges me.
The following accounts happened years ago:
A deeply spiritual mentor/friend of mine (I’ll call her Crystal) offended me. As I sat with her in her vehicle, she gave me a word from the Lord in a spirit of love. The word was truth but it deeply offended me. I cried. Prior to the word, Crystal and I had planned a day of fellowship together. After my tears flowed, Crystal did not feel sorry for me nor did she apologize for hurting me. That is because she told me what the Lord told her to tell me. My tears didn’t sway her holy resolve. After some minutes, Crystal asked me if I wanted to go back home. I sniffled, and told her that I wanted to go with her, as planned. Later, when she got out of the vehicle to do an errand, I stayed in the vehicle to get things right with our Lord. When Crystal returned, I was in a good place spiritually, and we went on to have a good day together.
These many years later, when I recall that episode, I have a sense of deep love and respect for Crystal’s stand for our Lord in spite of my offense and tears. She did me a good service indeed, and I am deeply grateful for her witness for our Lord.
This account involves Crystal and me, as well. On a certain day, I went to a hat store and saw this stunning hat that I could not afford to purchase that day. The Lord told me that He would “hold” it for me to purchase on another day. A few days later, on a Saturday, the Lord told me to stay in at home to commune with Him. Well, Crystal called and invited me out to spend time with her. I agreed. My rationale was – she’s a Christian so what big deal could it be if I went out with her instead of staying home to commune with the Lord as He had told me to do.
As Crystal and I rode around, I had the bright idea to have us go to the hat store so that I could show her the stunning hat that the Lord had said that He would “hold” for me. Do you know what happened?! I am sure that it was because of my disobedience. I had no business being out with Crystal that day. Crystal purchased the hat for herself! I was crushed. The Lord brought to my remembrance that I had disobeyed Him, and the penalty was that He told Crystal to buy “my” hat. Crystal and I were members of the same church, and I had to watch her in church with “my” hat on! What a lesson I learned.
This account reflects a contrast relative to offense. I know of someone whose husband habitually treats her much less than loving. One day I got fed up and lit into him with verbal fire on high voltage. He was deeply offended. Everything that I said was truth, but the Lord did not lead me to say those things. My utterances were not in the spirit of love. I repented to the Lord, and called the husband to repent and to seek his forgiveness, which he granted.
The Lord led me to give a pastor a word which I did not consider major relative to correction. I am NOT one to just give people words from the Lord. Typically, I seek the Lord in prayer; ask Him for biblical proof, and confirmations, etc. I did all of that and was assured by the Lord that it was from Him for me to tell this pastor. I told the pastor in a humble loving manner. He did not seem offended. Later though, from the pulpit, the pastor verbally blasted me. He did not use my name but it was obvious from his words that he was talking about me and the word given to him.
As I sat there in church, I asked the Lord again if the word came from Him. I was “certain” that it was until I got blasted. The Lord assured me again that it was a word from Him. As I sat there, the Lord provided me with scriptural confirmation. I felt better. When I got home though, I decided that, to avoid more “drama,” I would later go to the pastor to seek his forgiveness. Immediately, when that thought hit me, I felt the anger of the Lord. I clearly heard Him say to me, in a stern tone, that He had given me the word to give to the pastor. Further, our Lord let me know that I knew that it was from Him as He had provided me with adequate confirmations. The Lord informed me that I was inclined to seek the pastor’s forgiveness, and to make “peace” because I desired to avoid persecution because of the WORD. He went on to inform me that if I retracted my stance, that it would be an insult to Him – GOD! He concluded by telling me that He would punish me if I sought forgiveness for a Word that He sent me to give. GOD’s rebuke shook me. I did NOT go to the pastor to retract. As weeks went by, the Lord reconciled me and the pastor, WITHOUT me having to disobey what the Lord told me. Ever since that episode, for the most part, I give words as led by the Lord and whatever occurs – it is what it is. As the scripture says in The Acts 5:29 - KJV, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” Still…there are rare instances when I’m not sure if it is me or the Lord doing the words.
Presently, I am better at verbal restraint but sometimes, I continue to question how far is too far relative to offense or when is it that I am not doing enough to verbally correct? We all need correction. Over time, I have grown to appreciate when I am rebuked in love because it is for spiritual benefit. Truth can hurt us but it is good to know, and to make amends when the Lord corrects us through others or however He decides.
I don’t want to be at either extreme – prone to correct too readily nor prone to ignore where correction is necessary.
Does anyone else have the challenge of striking a balance? Can someone please help me on this?!