Christians should strive to give and take no offense, right? Of course. After all, we are to love one another (John 13:35). But there will be times—HOPEFULLY VERY FEW–when we must risk offending someone with our words. Wounding words. Hurtful words.
How can a Christian speak hurtful words? That’s wrong, right?
For the answer to that, we look to Jesus. In his last days before glory on Calvary, he had engaged in several conversations with religious leaders and Pharisees that can only be described as tense. They tried and failed to have Jesus incriminate himself through his own words (Matthew 2:46).
This is when Jesus showered them with a series of WOES (Matthew 23:13-33). Here’s the most powerful example:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” Matthew 23:13
It’s no surprise that the Pharisees took OFFENSE to these harsh words from Jesus. But does that mean Jesus was being OFFENSIVE?
The answer to that question is the teaching we all need for how we navigate the truth-telling-in-love lane of life.
NO, Jesus was not being offensive.
An offense was and is anything that gets in the way of a person having FAITH IN CHRIST (1 Corinthians 8:13). The New Testament gives us a clear picture of an offense: ANYTHING that stops a person from establishing faith in Jesus or causes them to fall away from their commitment to that faith.
OK, let’s go back to those scribes and Pharisees. They were keeping people from establishing faith in Christ and entering Heaven. THAT IS THE OFFENSE, not Jesus’ rebuke of their actions.
If Jesus said nothing, or “dialed it back” from a strong rebuke, THAT would be an OFFENSE.
This is where we find our “marching orders” when it comes to “being offensive.”
We are to give NO OFFENSE to anyone (1 Corinthians 10:32), unless it would be a “greater kindness” to step in with God’s truth.
This, then, makes withholding that truth CRUEL…and WRONG.
I ask God to help me know in advance when my words and actions will be offensive, and when I must speak the truth in love. All and always to HIS GLORY.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Are you clear about what makes an OFFENSE in God’s eyes?
“…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15