Sep 7, 2011

Should We Offend People?

        In 1 Corinthians 10:32 Paul says, "Don't give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God". We tend to run with verses like this in churches today. We have become an ulta-tolerant society. 

        Often we assume that we already know what the Bible means when it says words like offend. However, we should first ask what Paul meant by offense. Before we do that let's ask what 'we' mean today by offend. The definition of offend is: to Cause to feel upset, annoyed, or resentful. It can also mean: to transgress the moral or divine law. 

        When we say we are offended it means that someone did something we did not like or that we do not think they should do. Occasionally we may use it to talk about how someone morally or ethically wronged us. When the Bible talks about us offending God it is talking about transgressing a moral law. We literally commit offenses against Him.

        However, when the Bible talks about us offending each other it means something entirely different. In the King James Bible we read, "But whoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matthew 18:6). The New International Version captures the meaning of the word better for today. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:6). 

        Why does the NIV have to capture the meaning rather than say offend? It is because what we mean by offend has changed drastically over the years. Webster's Dictionary still shows an old definition for the word but has the word obsolete beside of it. That definition is to cause to sin or fall. This is usually not the case when we "offend" someone today.

        Jesus told us not to judge if we had a plank in our eye, but to first remove it so that we can help our brother. This means that we ARE to confront other believers who are falling into the trap of sin as long as we are not involved in the same things. It is our Christian duty to offend (in todays meaning of the word). And we all probably know some Christians who need to be "offended".

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