Many have heard the statement or made this statement to someone. It is a statement made from one who has come to an understanding that they have done something that is an offence to another party. So, in order to call the truce, the person in question makes the statement, “Don’t be offended”. It is then left for the other party, who has been wronged to accept the truce or peace-making venture, which is quite normal in the world we live in today.
OFFENCE in the literal English translation gives a sense of hurt, resentment, bitterness or indignation. It is also annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself. To be OFFENDED implies being resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. To describe in other words, it means an insult is an expression, statement (or sometimes behavior) that is considered degrading, offensive and impolite. Insults (sometimes called “cracks”, “remarks”) may be intentional or accidental. The OFFENDER is described as the one who brings the offence.
From the above, it is evident that we will all fall into one of the categories described above in the associations we keep or have. One can either bring an offence as an offender, or be the one offended. Now when you feel upset, hurt, injured, insulted, aggrieved, affronted, pained, displeased, distressed, disgruntled, annoyed, angry, exasperated, irritated and resentful (to mention a few), it means YOU ARE OFFENDED; someone has done something wrong to you. Please note that it is the person who brought the offence that is wrong in this situation, not you who are offended.
Jesus in discussing with his disciples gave a different twist to this when he told his disciples that OFFENSES will always come; they are like the air we breathe, we cannot keep them from coming. We can only manage and choose the part we want to be on, but from Jesus’ perspective, there is a danger on one of the sides as described in this story in Luke 17: 1- 5.
The word offence in the Hebrew language is skan’-da-lon: it gives a sense of offence, stumbling block, occasion of stumbling, occasion to fall, or something that offends. The word scandal was coined from the Hebrew word. In accordance with their custom, when an animal is wanted for food, the hunter digs a hole and gets a sharp-edged stick and buries it in the hole dug, pointing upwards. The hole is then covered with a mat and then the animal is chased in the direction of the hole. As the animal steps on the mat, it sinks down and falls onto the sharp stick buried in the ground pointing upwards and meets its death. The animal therefore is said to be scandalized or the animal was offended.
An offence in this story is described and looked at as an obstacle against which one may dash one’s foot and may cause one to stumble, trip or momentarily lose ones balance. It’s a stumbling block and a trap to which a bait is attached. It becomes an inevitable distraction to the one who is offended orchestrated by the Devil (using people who are very close to us) to bring distractions or trap them who have been elected by God with a purpose. It is therefore not the issue of who is right or wrong but identifying and knowing the role of the enemy in our lives.
To the one that brings the offence, Jesus gave his judgment: he said it will be better for the one who brings the offence to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time.
To drive home our point about the offended, we would look at the story of John the Baptist and his association with Jesus. Isaiah prophesied it when he said, “This is the voice of him crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight”. It was John the Baptist who baptized people at the river Jordan for the confession and repentance of their sins. He prophesied that, “the axe is laid to the root of the trees and that every tree that does not bring forth good fruits is hewed down and burnt off”.
It was John the Baptist who announced to the whole world that someone (talking about Jesus) was coming after him whose shoes he was not worthy to untie. It was John the Baptist who announced, “Behold the one who takes the Sin of the world away”, “ I have baptized you with water but the one who comes after me will baptize you with the spirit and fire”. He said, “I must decrease that He (Jesus) might increase. When Jesus appeared at river Jordan, John said to his disciples (after God announced from heaven that Jesus was his beloved son in whom He was well pleased when Jesus came out of the water after baptism), “behold the Lamb of God”. He told his disciples to follow Jesus and from then on, the administration of the Jews and the Nation of Israel shifted from John to Jesus. This was how John the Baptist ended his ministry.
John would have continued to baptize people at the river Jordan and because he was known to the nation of Israel, there would have been some kind of confusion with the new ministry Jesus had just started in the grand plan of Almighty God. Something must happen to bringing an end to the ministry of John the Baptist.
Apparently, Herod had remanded John the Baptist in prison because John condemned him for trying to marry his brother’s wife. He was going to put him to death but was afraid, as the people knew John to be a Prophet. Was John expecting Christ to come and deliver him out of prison? What he hadn’t expected was to be tormented by such oppressive doubts and fears. Since the Jordan, John had not doubted that Jesus was the Christ. But stuck alone in this rotten cell he was assaulted by horrible, accusing thoughts.
He called for his disciples and asked them to check with Christ if indeed he was the Messiah that they had been expecting asking if they should look for another as the real Messiah. Jesus told them to tell John that the things they had seen and heard: the blind saw, the lame walked, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf do hear, the dead are raised and to the poor the gospel is preached. He ended by saying, “blessed is he who is not offended in Him (Jesus).
The sons of Shechem raped Dinah and Simon and Levi who knew what had been done to their sister took offence and decided to kill all the men of that land. They had a right to get angry at what was done to their sister but in their being offended they committed murder. Their father was not happy at what they did; he had this to tell them as he departed: “Simeon and Levi are brothers; deceit and force are their secret designs. Take no part in their secrets, O my soul; keep far away, O my heart, from their meetings; for in their wrath they put men to death, and for their pleasure even oxen were wounded. A curse on their passion for it was bitter; and on their wrath for it was cruel. I will let their heritage in Jacob be broken up, driving them from their places in Israel”. They were scandalized! They were offended!
So Jesus now comes in with a piece of advice to the one offended. He advised them to be attentive, be on guard and look out for others as they solemnly try to approach the offender. The offended according to Jesus must approach the offender to let them know they have offended them if by chance they can repent. If they do repent, the offended was commanded to forgive, no matter the number of times they get offended in a day. The totality of the job is done by the one offended, he/she has to come forward to tell the offender that they are offended. Difficult right? His disciples replied him with the difficulty of what he wants them to do and his answer was that faith was their only remedy.
If you are someone who is going somewhere in life and you get angry easily, it is possible for the devil to bring people who will do things to get you angry all the days of your life. You can get out of this by continually renewing your mind so that you are able to submit and know the different dimensions of the Will of God. You will then be able to view things from God’s perspective and act in accordance to what is expected of you from scriptures.
Like the disciples said when they were confronted with the difficult, so are we today and all we can ask the Lord is to help us in this life as we try not to get offended. Make sure you don’t get scandalized!
Psalm 119:165: Great peace have they, which love your law: and nothing shall offend them.