Summary: We live in a fallen world full of sinners saved or not, who are all going to say and do things that hurt or offend us at some point. Not one of you in here has not done so yourself. In other words Jesus is saying expect it, why should you expect otherwise
“It is impossible that no offences should come” (Lk 17:1) The word for offence is literally where we get our word scandal from, and Jesus is making a very clear point that scandals, offences, temptations to sin will come. “But woe to the one through whom they come”.
Depending on your translation it may sound like this is about sin in general, but it is actually specifically about relational actions and words that cause a person to get angry and want to get revenge. It says in the next verses if he sins against you. These are personal offenses.
In the end times which we are in, Jesus also says in Mt 24:10-13, “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” One of the greatest marks of a Christian according to Jesus is the ability to tolerate, endure, bear other people’s junk without retaliation. So much so that Jesus says to love your enemies.
Here’s one way that can work (do pushing demonstration).
We live in a fallen world full of sinners saved or not, who are all going to say and do things that hurt or offend us at some point. Not one of you in here has not done so yourself. In other words Jesus is saying expect it, why should you expect otherwise from fallen people? Now since it’s going to happen, don’t act like it shouldn’t, don’t deny it when it happens, deal with it appropriately as I instruct. And fortunately he gives us ample instruction.
And yes it will come from other Christians and even from your pastor. David says in Psalm 55, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng”.
The worst offences come from the people closest to us, the ones we don’t expect it from, and nowhere else does this have such a lasting impact than in families and in the church. That is why God needs to give us instruction, but more importantly we need to follow His instruction, because the same nature that causes us to hurt and offend others is the one we will use to react to the offence. Two bads never make a good.
Now this word for offence, “skandalon” originally referred to the part of a trap to which the bait was attached. In this context it is a trap devised by our enemy Satan, to bring people into captivity. Look at 2 Tim 2:24-26:
24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
The worst part is that we are rarely aware that we have been taken into captivity. We are not aware of our true condition when we hold on to bitterness and unforgiveness, and you will never grow up spiritually or emotionally until you are willing to honestly examine your inner life.
There are two types of offended people, 1) those who have been treated unjustly or 2) those who believe they have been treated unjustly. The last category is very common and their conclusion is often based on inaccurate information, or accurate information that has led to a distorted conclusion. They judge by assumption, appearance, and hearsay.
At the core of all this is the selfish and prideful nature of the human heart. We don’t want to see the truth about ourselves sometimes. So today I want to look at the various aspects of this trap in an effort to help us look accurately at ourselves, and then next week we will talk about the cure.
The first thing that needs to be addressed is False Assumptions. I’m not sure there is a more prevalent problem in relationships than this. And it is why we always need others speaking truth into our lives. We all have a tendency to react to incomplete information with assumptions that often have no basis in reality. We love to read motives into things people say and do, and most often we are wrong.
Just a very basic example. You get angry and yell at your child for something they did, and your child assumes you are doing it because you don’t love them. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth, but if that behaviour is looked at in isolation, it may appear to be true. We need to be very careful about reading motives into something another person does or says, and if you think you’re a good mind reader, let me assure you, you are not. So many issues can be avoided or reconciled very quickly by avoiding assumptions.