29 May 2012

On Offending Others

In reading through the book of Matthew, there’s a certain word I keep noticing – “offended.” Offend, 7 times; offended, 8 times; offence, twice; offences, twice.  That’s 19 total mentions of the word.  And that’s more to cover than one post will allow for, but I would like to show you one comparison that I found instructive.

In Matthew 15, the scribes and Pharisees approach Jesus and ask him why his disciples transgress the tradition of the elders by eating with unwashen hands (vv. 1-2).  Jesus responds by asking, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition” (v. 3).  He enlarges on that statement and gives some examples of how they do so in verses 4-11.  His language is strong and direct.  The point He makes is crystal clear.

In verse 12, “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were OFFENDED, after they heard this saying?” 

Verses 13-14, “But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.  Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

Basically, Jesus responded by saying that He was unconcerned about whether or not His WORDS offended the Pharisees.  Truth is truth.  And the truth must be spoken – in love (Ephesians 4:15).  But Jesus did not care who the TRUTH offended.

Fast-forward to Matthew 17.  Here some tax collectors approach Peter and ask him whether or not Jesus pays his taxes (v.24).  Peter answers in the affirmative.  When he gets to the house where Jesus is, Jesus “prevents” him – He brings it up first (v. 25).  How did he know about the conversation Peter had with those that receive the tribute money?  He was God, of course.  (Great proof for the Deity of Christ.) 

According to verse 26, it was Jesus’ political opinion that He did not owe any taxes.  Then why did he have Peter take the coin out of the fish’s mouth to pay both His and Peter’s tribute?  Jesus gives the answer in verse 27, “Notwithstanding, lest we should OFFEND them…”

So Jesus was unconcerned that His WORDS offended the Pharisees.  But He was concerned about His LIFE offending the tax collectors.  Jesus did not care who the TRUTH offended.  But He certainly cared who His TESTIMONY offended. 

The application for us?  I think that far too often we’re too careful about saying some things that need to be said because we’re afraid somebody might be offended.  And I think that far too often we’re not careful enough about doing some things that we do or don’t do, unmindful of others who will be offended (hurt) by our actions (see Matthew 16:23; 18:6). 

Let’s speak the truth, regardless of who might take offence.  And let’s live in such a way as to “give none offence” (1 Corinthians 10:32).  Amen.

Listen to a sermon entitled "The Danger of Disobedience" and learn what happened to a man who failed to obey God’s word because he was afraid of somebody getting hurt (1 Kings 20).

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