An Article from Pastor Paul Boutan
“Then He said to His disciples, ‘It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!” Luke 17:1 NKJV
It seems that practically “everyone” is easily “triggered” these days. The older generation calls millennials “Snowflakes,” because of how hypersensitive they seem to be. Of course, the younger generation claps back and says,“Okay Boomer!” However, a recent study published in the journal Psychology and Aging found that those who are 40 years of age and older might be the “the most hypersensitive generation alive.” In these volatile times, how are we as followers of Christ to handle being offended? A brief look at Luke 17 gives us practical advice on dealing with offenses.
First of all, we should note that Jesus said, “It is IMPOSSIBLE that no offense should come” (Luke 17:1). He is clearly letting us know that as long as we live on this sinful planet, and as long we are cloaked in sinful but thin skin, someone, somewhere will offend us. But we also need to draw our attention to whom Jesus was directing His words to. Notice that Luke 17:1 begins by saying, “Then He said to the DISCIPLES.” Jesus wasn’t talking to the world at large. He wasn’t targeting millennials. He was directing this statement to a particularly thin-skinned group of people we might call “Christians,” or His disciples as they’re called in this passage. It seems, that it doesn’t take much to offend those of us who follow Christ. We can get offended watching Netflix, or scrolling down our Facebook feed, reading a news headline, and we can get offended by a fellow believer in Christ. Maybe it’s a Christian brother who happens to take the seat at church that you sit in every Sunday, you know “your seat.” Perhaps another Christian says something negative about you on social media. Or maybe they said one thing, but you assumed they meant something more sinister by it. I saw a tee shirt at a Christian Bookstore that said, “Oh you’re offended? Well, I’m offended, that you’re offended!” Whatever, the scenario Jesus’ warning is just as relevant today as it was when Luke 17 was first written, “it’s impossible that no offenses should come.”
It may be helpful to know that the word “offense” in the New King James Version, is the Greek word skandalon which has a couple different shades of meaning. First of all, this word can be translated “trap,” or “snare.” The picture this word paints is that of a hunter baiting a trap. As followers of Jesus, we would do well to always keep in mind that the enemy of our souls, the Devil, is constantly baiting the trap. In fact, this word really speaks of “triggering a trap,” much like a mouse trap is triggered once it’s baited, and when the mouse ever so slightly touches the bait, the trap is easily triggered. Satan knows how to bait us and make us “easily triggered.” Secondly, this term skandalon can also be rendered “stumbling block.” It’s often used in the context of an athletic competition. In the Olympic games, specifically a marathon, a common way a runner might cheat was to throw a rock, a log, or something large in the path for runners behind him to “stumble” over and fall. Why does the Devil bait us as believers in Jesus? Why does he tempt us to become “easily triggered?” Answer, he’s hoping in this marathon called the Christian life, we will trip one another up. That these “offenses” will stumble us in our walk with the Lord and relationships within the body of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:11 exhorts us “not to be ignorant of the devil’s schemes.”
How do we handle being offended? Thankfully, Jesus gives us some simple yet challenging steps to resolve our differences with those who’ve wronged us. After telling us that it’s impossible not to be offended by someone, Jesus now says:
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him. 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.” Luke 17:3-4 NKJV
I want you to notice what He did NOT say. Jesus did not say, “If your brother sins against you, tell as many people as possible what he did” or, “tell the whole world preferably on social media.” Nor did he say, “let them know that as far as you’re concerned, they are dead to you, you’re never talking to them again.” On the contrary, Jesus said, “rebuke them.” Now that word “rebuke” may not mean what you think it means. Before you dial up images in your mind of getting in their face and giving them a “piece of your mind,” or “ripping them a new one” to put it in our vernacular. I should probably tell you that this word “rebuke” epitimaō in the Greek literally means to “show honor.” So, the idea is when someone has “done you dirty” when someone has hurt you, or offended you, do the honorable thing and go talk to them about it. Another way to look at it is that when they have behaved “dishonorably” toward you, it is your responsibility to behave honorably toward them.
As the infomercials would say, “But wait, there’s more.” After you have gone to them and talked about how what they did to you hurt you and offended you, Jesus says, “if they repent, forgive them.” If they demonstrate a change of thought, a change of heart and a change of behavior, then as hard as it might be, forgive them. In the original language the term forgive speaks of “canceling a debt that you’re owed.” In effect it’s saying, “If they have repented, then stop holding it over their head as if they haven’t repented. Stop treating them like they owe you a debt that has not been repaid.” Instead, in the ledger of your heart you erase the record against them. You wipe out the debt they owe. Afterall, that’s what Jesus has done for you. Do you remember that line in the Lord’s prayer that says,“forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”? (Matthew 6:12). It’s been well said, “that you’re never more like Jesus, then when you forgive.”
In a day when everyone is “triggered” and easily offended I want to encourage you to eagerly forgive, as you’ve been forgiven.
If you want to explore this subject further, let me suggest a book by John Bevere titled The Bait Of Satan; Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offence.