Sunday, July 02, 2006

Trap of Offense

My little world is being blown away. But I don’t think that I will be able to communicate with the same intensity that I feel. In reading The Bait of Satan, I am deeply convicted as the Word of God is being revealed. It is forcing me to re-live some moments in my life…

I am realizing that my current problem is that I was greatly offended by people that I call brothers; and, the trap of offense has held me in it jaws. Like David said in Psalms 55:12-14 “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. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

In my situation, I have been focused on how it all happened. While that may be a legitimate issue, that is not the root of my current problem. What happened, how it happened, etc., should most certainly be addressed if it was wrong, but that does not make it okay for me to get caught in the trap of offense. And because a trap, by its very nature, is hidden and deceiving, I have not realized it until now.

I have also realized the danger of being offended and how difficult it is for an offended brother or sister to recover. Matthew 24:10 says that being offended leads to betrayal, and betrayal to hatred…that is dangerous. Proverbs 18:19 compares restoring relationships where one was offened, to the difficulty of taking over a fortified city.

With those verses, at least I am beginning to understand why this has been the most difficult time of my life.

John Bevere begins with Luke 17:1--but look at the different ways that the word ‘offenses’ is translated in 4 different versions. ‘Offenses, stumbling blocks, temptations to sin, things that cause people to sin.’ I guess I see each of these words slightly different, and after further study, I see that offenses is the best word. It involves the concept of being in a trap, and a trap has the ability to immobilize you, not just make you stumble-or tempt you in some way.

The Greek word used is-skandalon skan’-dal-on ("scandal"). The first definition of skandalon is: “the movable stick or trigger of a trap, a trap stick” The word originally meant the part of the trap to which the bait was attached. Being offended, especially during times of ‘scandal’, is the deceitful bait on the trigger of a trap. When we become offended, and hold on to that offence, we trigger the trap, and are immobilized until we let go…something a lot easier said than done.

The second definition, by the way, is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling”. So, I can see why it is translated the way it is in the different versions. But, in the context, we see that Jesus is saying things like, “...if he [your brother] sins against you seven times in a day…”

[On a side note, after studying this word ‘offense’, I think that I will stick to my NKJV. Just think how misled we would be if we taught about stumling blocks instead of being offended. It’s a world of difference, to me. The KJV and NKJV seems much more accurate. But I will keep a couple of other versions nearby for comparison. However, the most important thing is to study…]

So, I am currently meditating on Luke 17:1-5. There is a lot there.
Jesus warns us about the trap of being offended
Jesus warns the one through whom the offenses come
Jesus says that the offender would be better off with a huge stone tied around his neck, and thrown into the sea, than to offend
Jesus explains the first steps when we are offended by a brother or sister: Bring it to their attention in a God-Honoring way, and forgive them as often as necessary.

And I love the apostles’ reply. There is no way for me to know exactly, but based on the way I feel after studying this, I see them sort of shaking their head in amazement, wondering how in the world they are going to obey this teaching. Then all they could say to the Lord was, “Increase our faith.”

And all I can say at this point is, “Lord, forgive me for holding on to offense. I forgive those who I perceive offended me. Help me to never be the offender, and always aware of the trap of offense. Most of all, Increase my faith.”

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