People are easily offended today. They take offense about others’ opinions, skin color, political leanings, financial status, word choice, and much, much more.
The word offended is in the Bible, and it brings up some strong spiritual teachings. Here are just a few.
The context of the first is a half-lie Abraham told. Apparently Sarah was a knockout. She was Abraham’s wife and also his half-sister. So Abraham thought, if he and Sarah said she was his sister, he would save his skin. No one would kill him for his wife. Of course, this was wrong on many levels.
Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem, and God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this (Genesis 20:3-5). God responds, Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine (20:7).
Here is the verse about offense: Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done (20:9).
Abraham’s unwise half-lie affected the king and the whole nation. When Christians sin, that sin affects more people that one can imagine. In this case, Abimilech did what all heathen kings did. Abimelech saw a gorgeous woman and took her into his harem. While we certainly don’t condone harems or taking any woman one desires, this is what kings did back in those days. God wasn’t pleased with Abimilech for taking Sarah, and he wasn’t happy with Abraham for lying. Abimilech recognized that he had offended God Himself.
The next offense speaks about idolatry. It’s found in Hosea 13:1, When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. What was the penalty for idol worship? Death.
Jesus used this word. He said, Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matthew 11:6). Those not ashamed of the Lord will be happy.
When Jesus went back to his hometown, Nazareth, they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house (Matthew 13:57). So, Jesus left Nazareth and did miracles elsewhere. The people believed rumors and innuendo instead of the Son of God.
Thankfully, Jesus gave us His Word. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended (John 16:1). What a blessing!
This next verse is perhaps one of the saddest in the Bible. Of course, Jesus, being God, knew what would happen, and He even advised the disciples before His crucifixion: All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad (Matthew 26:31). Peter contradicted the Lord, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I (Mark 14:29). Jesus indeed knew that even Peter would be offended and deny Him, which he did three times before the cock crowed.
The lesson, of course, for us is to stand for the Lord and not to be scattered. With the regulations for churches in diverse places in the world, some churches aren’t even allowed to meet. We need not to be offended in Christ but to be strong and stick together.
The last verse about offending teaches a practical principle. This one is about our behavior before other Christians: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak (Romans 14:21).
The context is about Christian liberty, specifically eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians could eat it with a clear conscience, since an idol is just a piece of stone, wood, or metal, and they recognized that it was nothing. Other Christians had “weaker” consciences, and because of the meat having been used in a pagan rite, they couldn’t eat it. The lesson in the Bible is for the meat eaters not to eat meat when they knew they might offend the ones who didn’t eat it because of their conscience. When alone, of course, it would be fine. The lesson for us, of course, is not to do anything to provoke or tempt another Christian to go against his conscience.
Let’s be careful not to be offended in Christ but rather to glorify Him with our lives. Christians need to stick together and be strong against persecution. There’s no reason to lie. And, we need to be careful not to offend others who have weaker consciences.