Luke 17:1-4 – “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 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. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” NKJV
Jesus makes a powerful statement regarding ‘offenses’ from which each of us can and should benefit. He said it is IMPOSSIBLE that no offenses come. The opportunity for offense is ever present and most of us, at some time, TAKE OFFENSE at something the human psyche and ego almost guarantee it. It is not TAKING NO OFFENSE that we should hear but how we respond to an offense. I do suggest that we have to choose to be offended for offense to take root but let’s look at the situation when an offense is present.
Jesus warned that although ‘offenses’ will come we are not to be the ‘offender’. He presents it in such a graphic picture that we should all carefully weigh our words, deeds, and actions. He especially conveys how damaging it is to offend a child but does not leave it there and applies it to everyone. We know from scripture that we are to be careful in damaging a ‘weaker brother’ but biblically dealing with ‘offense’ is a lost art in most of the church today. Sadly, too often we are like the world in how we respond.
I want you to notice that Jesus instructed us that if a brother sins against us (does us wrong) we should ‘rebuke’ him not harbor it and talk of it to everyone who will listen. We are not to divide brothers and sisters with our tale bearing but take it to the individual directly and personally. No a text message is not the way to handle it. If that person ‘repents’ we are to ‘forgive’. If they repeatedly do it and repeatedly come saying ‘I repent’ we are to repeatedly ‘forgive’. That is a very difficult task for most of us.
I have had people say to me, “But I can’t forget.” No, forgiveness does not mean you have ‘divine amnesia’ it means you make the choice to release them from the offense or wrong. You make the choice to place it in God’s hands. Separating ‘sin’ from ‘sinner’ is not always easy and enduring relationships require ‘trust’. If I repeatedly wrong you and repeatedly say ‘I repent’ biblically you are to ‘forgive’ me but my actions will severely damage the ‘trust factor’. I have found that I can ‘love’ someone biblically and yet find it not conducive to associate with them. I heard a very godly older lady when challenged that she was directed by Scripture to ‘like someone’ say, “NO! The Bible says I have to love you it did not say I had to like you.” I thought there are many layers to that statement and the heart of it goes to separating the ‘sin’ from the ‘sinner’ and ‘compatibility’. I have observed that some personalities are not compatible and while there can be mutual respect and Christian love it might be in the best interest of both parties to be in different circles.
Love and forgiveness are choices! I know that sometimes I offend although I never want to. I know that sometimes my objective, intent, and purpose is misunderstood no matter how I try to convey my true heart in the matter. I am passionate about many things and in that passion there is the possibility of taking a stance that someone can and does take offense. While I may continue to believe that which resulted in the ‘offense’ I do not want to be ‘offensive’. I do not compromise my convictions nor do I expect anyone else to but I will readily ask forgiveness for being offensive. I would rather be the one potentially ‘offended’ than to be the ‘offender.’ Know this; if I say or do something to ‘offend’ you I am open to your rebuke. If your offense is that you do not believe what I have said is true I will attempt to explain. If it is based on ideology I will regret having offended but do not ask me to change my personal convictions nor will I ask you. It is important to know the difference between ‘disagreement’ in philosophy and belief and ‘offense’ or ‘wrong’. Failure on that front will result in expecting people to complete vacate their beliefs and conviction in the interest of political correctness and that is not what the Bible is talking about. If you are ‘wronged’ or you perceive you have been ‘wronged’ go to that person and lay out what you perceive allowing them opportunity to clear the air and if necessary repent.
May God be with you as you go through your day!