Luke 17:1-4 – “Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. 3 Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” NKJV
The Lord Jesus stated that offenses will come in life. You cannot create a social climate where there are no occasions in which someone is offended. However, the word offend is to cause displeasure, anger, resentment, or wounded feelings. It is possible for someone to be offensive and for we choose not to take offense. It is my conviction and belief that to be offended we have to make a choice to allow what was said or done to so influence us that we harbor resentment and hold an amount of unforgiveness in our hearts as a result.
Although we cannot prevent offenses from coming, we do have a biblical directive on how to handle conflicts and offenses. In the social medium of Facebook, I have had to block a few (very few) people from posting on my page because they became antagonistic and combative descending into personal attacks and using profanity.
Each time I notified them that this could not and would not be tolerated and when those few decided to continue, I took that action. I have been blocked, on three known occasions, by others and only one actually notified me of their action but the other two posted things on their pages quoting what I had said and vilifying me over them without calling my name. One was religious and that person notified me of their action, and it was because they held a different doctrinal point of view than I and the other two were political.
For Christians, there is only one true course to take with regard to offenses and that is found in Matthew 18. It should be the minimum that a believer will follow, and we should never shut someone out due to a perceived or real offense without following the directive of this passage outlined by our Lord. It may be that the individual is unaware of their offense and what they did or said was not premeditated or malicious and something they would gladly rectify if given the chance.
I have been misunderstood and have misunderstood others in my life. Each time I followed, or they have followed Matthew 18 we quickly realized the offense or perceived offense was a misunderstanding and nothing malicious. A friendship was preserved, and needless bitterness was prevented.
Matthew 18:15-20 – “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” NASB
I always encourage people, if they take exception to anything I say or do, let me know. Allow me to opportunity to explain, hoping to clear the air and dispel any thought of malice on my part. Offenses will come, we cannot prevent them, but we can prevent them from becoming havens of unforgiveness and bitterness.
God bless you as you go through your day!