Offenses: We all are subject to them. We are all capable of delivering them. It is the human condition.
Cruelty and injustice offend people who are the victims. Sin offends God. Revenge for offenses received only offends the offender more deeply. Nothing is solved. No issues are resolved. The inertia of offense continues to drive the train off the rails until a life is wasted. Who can stop this?
A few days ago we sang, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” It is more than a song. It is a fact. Adults who swim in the sea of offenses bear the responsibility of their choices, but children are at the mercy of the adults in their lives. Jesus holds those who would offend them to the highest of standards of behavior.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
How do we offend children? By withholding the Gospel from them. Children have a marvelous capacity to believe. When they hear about Jesus, He comes to them. He is a friend and even a playmate to them. To withhold Jesus from them is an offense of the most dreadful kind.
We also offend children by abusing them, either with violence, with hateful words, or with neglect. The children may be voiceless, but Jesus feels their offense and wants to send someone to rescue them. These humble, Christ-honoring servants never seek headlines so the world takes little note of them. But Jesus knows.
Our Propensity to Offend
We can do it accidentally with an unkind word or a thoughtless opinion better left unspoken. It can happen to us in the same way. A large part of maturity is contained in how we handle offenses. Do we forgive and try to forget? Or do we hold on to them? If we do, it is like giving them a mental hothouse in which to take root and grow into a foul smelling, poisonous growth that steals our energy. It is much better to forgive and try to forget. In humility we must remember that we are likely to offend and will want to be forgiven. We must give what we want to receive.
Identify the Cause
An offense is a reaction; something causes us to offend others. Perhaps we are striking back at someone who has struck us a damaging blow. Jesus covered this in the Sermon on the Mount. We need to go deeper than the event to see the root cause. Jesus talked about the hands, the feet, and the eye as causes of offensive behavior. Looking carefully at our lives, are there habits in our hands, or felonies in our feet, or evil visions before our eyes that lead us to offensive words and deeds? Deal with those things while there is time! It is only wisdom.
Our sins offend God and there is nothing we can do to undo what we have done. But there is something we can do starting from now—we can turn our lives over to Jesus. He bore the offense of God on the cross. By faith in Him we can be free from these sins. By His indwelling Spirit, we can be changed from an offender to one who pleases God.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! “If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord Jesus, my sins were offensive to You, but You did not treat me as I deserved. You dealt with me according to Your mercy and grace. Thank You, Jesus! Help me to walk in the Spirit today. Prevent me from offending those who love You and serve You. They are my brothers and sisters and do not deserve anything but my love and encouragement. Help me to never offend those who are seeking for You. Even when they revile Your name or seek to offend me, help me to respond with grace. Lord Jesus, be with the abused children of this world. Send them loving hands and healing arms. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Grace that Is Greater
Words: Julia H. Johnson; Music: D. B. Towner
1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
yonder on Calvary’s mount out-poured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
grace, grace, God’s grace,
grace that is greater than all our sin.
2. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide,
what can avail to wash it away!
Look! there is flowing a crimson tide;
whiter than snow you may be today.
3. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
freely bestowed on all who believe;
you that are longing to see his face,
will you this moment his grace receive
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.