Offense is the mechanism that closes the trap down on the unsuspecting victim, holding the hunter's prey where he wants it so he can kill, steal and destroy.
Have you ever been offended? Do you remember how it felt?
Offense is very prevalent in this world and also in the body of Christ. In the church, offense is a huge stumbling block to the salvation of the lost, our ability to work in unity as the body of Christ, and to our own personal freedom in Christ. Offense has broken up many church's and caused much division in the body of Christ.
For many years, I never paid attention to the numerous warnings in the Bible about offense and the trap that it is. When I first took notice of the warnings, I was not even sure if I had been offended or caused offense to anyone. But once I realized what it was, I knew that I had fallen into the offense trap, and led others into it, an untold number of times in my life.
The words used for offense in the New Testament, literally mean the trigger of a trap, the place in a trap where the bait is hung, and to fall into a trap.
4624 skandalízō – properly, set a snare ("stumbling-block"); (figuratively) "to hinder right conduct or thought; to cause to stumble" – literally, "to fall into a trap" (Abbott-Smith)
4625 skándalon – properly, the trigger of a trap (the mechanism closing a trap down on the unsuspecting victim); (figuratively) an offense, putting a negative cause-and-effect relationship into motion. A stick for bait (of a trap).
As followers of Christ, I believe it is critical to see offense for what it is and how it can imprison us, destroy our lives and the lives of others. While we cannot prevent others from doing things that have the potential to offend us, we can learn how to stay out of the trap called offense and to avoid offending others.
Many times, in my life, I fell into the trap of offense. When I think about it, I felt hurt in some way by another person, something they did, did not do, or something they said or failed to mention, to name a few. Quite often, they had no idea what they had done, and other times they seemed to do it on purpose. I never really knew, because I was too prideful and not wise enough to ask them for clarification at the time. I have also offended many people in my life by what I have said or done. Usually not on purpose, but sometimes it was. When I consider the times I have offended others, I understand now that I was often careless and demonstrated a lack of love by something I did or said, which to God is always sin. So, I believe the same holds true when I have been offended; I perceive a lack of love, true or imagined, from the other person.
When I am offended, I tend to shut down towards the person, preferring not to have anything to do with them at the moment. I feel hurt and harden my heart to protect myself even if they did it on accident, which is often the case. It can make me unreasonable and stubborn, unwilling to listen. If the offense is bad enough, and I allow it, it can turn into anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and bitterness that leads me to avoid the person for the long term. I believe our pride has a lot to do with leading us into the offense trap and often keeping us there. Maybe that is part of the reason why pride is an abomination to God.
One of the worst forms of offense is when we get offended at someone because they were offended by us. Maybe they misunderstood us or maybe we shared a truth or tried to be honest about our feelings with a family member or friend and they were offended. When we become offended in return, it is the opposite of how we are called to act and now we are both in a trap. I have seen this in my family and in other families. It has separated many mothers and daughters and fathers and sons. When we let that happen, Satan wins.
When I look at offense from this perspective, I can see how debilitating and ugly it is in a person's life. There is a lot of pain and struggle that comes upon the offended party and those they love.
Our experiences being offended should help us wake up and begin to refuse the temptation to become offended and to offend others. We do not need to live our lives walking on eggshells in an attempt to not offend. Doing our best to walk in love at all times is the answer. Sometimes, love requires honest talk and taking the time to make sure we are not misunderstood. If we sense we have offended a person, we often have the power to release them from the offense trap by making sure they understand what we meant. Clarification will usually set us free if we become offended too. We just need to be honest, tell them we feel offended, and ask the other person to explain.
A man's insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense. Prov 19:11 BSB
There are also times when I have heard a truth, and I did not want to believe it, leading to offense. In that case, it was a matter of my will, not the truth. The word for offense in the Greek also means to hinder right conduct or thought; to cause to stumble, which it did for me in those cases. I have also had numerous people I have shared the gospel with, tell me they would not trust Christ even it could be proven true beyond all possible doubt. Offense hindered right thought and caused them to stumble, just as the definition states. They have placed what they want and their will above truth. The Bible says over and over that the gospel causes offense. So, while we do our best not to cause offense, we are still called to speak the truth in love. Often, the most loving thing we can do is to trust God and tell a person the truth about Christ or the matter at hand.
Paul was big on not offending people so they could be saved and mature in Christ. It is a theme that runs through most of his writings. He would do all he could to not offend a person. This could be an unbeliever who he wanted to come to a saving knowledge of Christ or an immature believer. In both cases, Paul tells us that offense is a stumbling block, and he did not want to make a person stumble.
Giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited 2 Cor 6:3 BSB
The only exception was that Paul always offered them the truth of the gospel that is offensive to many. If a person fell into the trap of offense upon hearing the gospel, Paul would try and reason with them, but it did not always work. Paul did his best to become all things to all people so he could save some. To the Jew he acted like a Jew under the law, because he knew the Jews were offended by the Gentiles. To the Gentile, he became as a Gentile outside of the law because the Gentiles were offended by the Jews. His whole goal was that he personally would not be a stumbling block on a person's path towards Christ. As ambassadors for Christ living in this fallen world, we need to keep this in mind. None of us wants to get in the way of a person's salvation.
"Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me." Luke 7:23 NAS
The Symptoms of Offense
I believe the primary negative symptom of offense is the hardening of a heart, and everything else is really a symptom of a hard heart. Above, I listed some of the symptom's offense had caused me that maybe you can relate to. Here are a few scriptures that shed some more light on our topic. There are many more if you search for offense and offended in the Bible.
Offense hardens the heart leading us to turn away and go in the exact opposite direction.
Then the disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?" Matt 15:12 NAS
Offense ruins relationships and turns our being and hearts into fortified cities in an attempt to protect. But the truth is, the trap of offense does a better job of stealing life and imprisoning than protecting.
An offended brother is harder to win than a fortified city, and disputes are like the bars of a castle. Prov 18:19 BSB
Offense can make us very unreasonable, no matter what the facts are in a situation. Offense grew such deep roots in the Pharisee's, it led them to crucify Jesus.
And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Matt 13:37 BSB
Have you ever been unreasonable or made yourself like a fortified city at offense? Do you remember the pain and struggle is causes? Do you know family or friends that are easily offended and do this? Do you see how offense places us in a prison of our own making?
How God Deals with Offense
The following verses are two of several that tell us that sin is an offense to God. In the Greek, the word used for offense is the same word used for transgression. The Bible tells us that sin is a transgression of the law. In other words, sin is an offense to the Law Giver.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. Rom 5:14 NAS
Consequently, just as one offense resulted in condemnation for everyone, so one act of righteousness results in justification and life for everyone. Rom 5:18 BSB
It makes sense that when we are offended, we perceive the words or actions as uncaring or unloving. Since love is the only thing that fulfills all of God's law (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14), being uncaring and unloving would be perceived at some level as a sin towards us.
God, who could react as we do to the offense of sin, thankfully does not harden His heart toward us. Instead, He leads by example and patiently loves those who are continually attempting to offend Him through sin. As time passes, we see offenses growing greater, more frequent and flagrant towards God, but His love never ends. Can you imagine loving those who continually try to offend you, sinning against you over and over, no matter what you told them? Can you imagine how offended God could become, sending His only Son to bring the good news of peace with God, and the same people the good news was intended for, put him to death? But, God still loves.
Can you imagine how offended, angry, and bitter Jesus could have become on the cross? But instead, he forgave them. He refused to let offense, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, or anything else get in the way of God's love and plan to save us.
"Father, forgive them, they know not what they do." Luke 23:34 BSB
Just like he tempts us to doubt, fear, and worry, Satan continually tempts us to imprison ourselves with offense. We need to be aware of the truth, offense is a terrible trap just like the Bible warns. We need to always keep on guard against it. We all know how we react when we are offended. Depending on a person's sensitivity level, the temptation to be offended can come is a small package, such as a wrong look, a comment, not being invited, an attitude, cut off in traffic, or it can be a much greater temptation to react. We gain the upper hand when we know what the enemy is doing and how he does it. Offense can come upon us in a bold and clear way or it can be subtle and obscure. Sometimes, we do not even know we have fallen victim until much later, when we are already in the trap. The Spirit will warn us if we are listening. No matter if the temptation for offense is small, large, valid, a misunderstanding, or imagined, the solution is the same and permanent, we simply make the decision from this point forward to refuse to be offended. And if we ever do fall into offense, we admit it and let it go right away. Offense only hurts us and benefits us in no way. This knowledge gives us the power to refuse it, no matter what may come, just like Jesus did. If you are carrying offense around with you today, let it go and release yourself from the trap.
With others, we must remember that offense is a trap that is totally hidden to most people in this world. The definition mentions it is a trap for the unsuspecting victim. Knowing that a person we love is caught in the enemies trap of offense, should make it easier to love them and not blame them for their attitudes and actions. The worst thing we can do is to become offended because they are offended. In many cases, we have the power of truth to set them free from the trap. The question is, will we step out in love and use the power God's truth gives us in this area. Often the offense they are experiencing is based on a misunderstanding about something we did or said. They may think we did it on purpose, while we have no idea what we did. If we notice a person is offended, clarification, and truth spoken in love about our interaction is often what will set them free. We should want them to be free from the enemy's grip, just like we desire. Using our own battles with offense as a real example to lovingly explain that offense is a trap, might help too.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Phil 9-11 NKJV
If you were walking down a path and saw an animal trap, you would not step in the trap because you recognize what it is and what it can do. The only way you would step in it would be on purpose, but that is insane. The same works for offense, you know it is a trap now. If you step in it now and choose to remain there, you are doing it on purpose and need to ask yourself why? Simply refuse to step into it from this day forward. If you start today rejecting offense, your life will go much better and His peace will be abudant in your days.
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20