Dealing With Offence
By Albert Zehr
Build up the highway, Remove the stones. Isaiah 62:10
God is about to visit His church in a mighty move. Meanwhile, many of His people are stumbled, frustrated and immobilized. How can we remove the stones so they can join the race?
This timely message can help to remove the stones, to set free and prepare each member of the body to fully participate in the coming move of God.
One of the most beautiful and promising, potential kings lost everything - his calling and even his life, because he could not deal with an offence. His name was Absalom. Only the Lord knows how many believers are locked into ineffectiveness and robbed of the joy of the Lord due to offence. Many relationships that were once close and cherished have been devastated and others are fraught with suspicion because of an underlying offence. This should not surprise us since Jesus foretold in Matt. 24:10, that in the end times many will be offended, and even further that this state of offence will make them susceptible to false prophets. Even more shocking is the fact that many are stumbled and fall away because they are offended with the Lord! (Matt. 11:6; 13:57; Luke 7:23)
I believe, however, that those have been offended, and who of us hasn’t, can be restored. This is the time of restoration! This message on understanding the subtlety of offence and the way to deal with it has been shared in various countries. Each time God has used it to bring health and healing to many. I have been urged to put it in writing, since it is proving to be a timely message. May it remove many stones on God’s highway.
Take The Bait
Much insight can be gained just from understanding the Greek word skandalon, from which the English word offence is derived. This word skandalon was used to describe the part of the trap where the bait was attached. If the prey took the bait, it would set off the trap and the “taker” became the victim. Once entrapped, the victim becomes subject to the intention of the trapper.
From this it becomes clear that offense is one of the primary baits which Satan uses to entrap believers. Once in his trap he can easily subject them to anger, resentment, and criticism, bringing division and rebellion. This of course also robs them of joy and spiritual usefulness. So, we must learn to recognize the bait and not take it; and if we do, learn how to deal with it.
Those Useful To God Needed To Overcome Offence
While offences are inevitable and often prove to be negative, we find that the Lord’s most useful servants had to learn to overcome offences and eventually these experiences perfected them for greater usefulness. The reader may wish to study these and other examples in detail - we will only take the time to refer briefly to a few.
Joseph had numerous occasion to be offended - by his brothers, by Potipher’s wife, by the cupbearer and others. Had he taken the bait he would have become a bitter revengeful man. But somehow he overcame and rose to a higher perspective so he could say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish (His purpose)” Gen.50:20
Moses tried his best to address his people’s wrongs but it backfired, and no doubt he was offended at the Lord. But forty years in the wilderness it took him to overcome his offence prepared him so he could overcome the offence of the murmuring of the Israelites.
David was left until last to be asked to appear before Samuel. Before he fought Goliath his brothers mocked him, Saul misjudged him, but he did not take the bait of offence and remained useful to the Lord.
David had at least one narrow escape from offence. He was saved from the trap of offence by Abigail. In 1 Sam. 25, he was offended by Nabal and was on his way to get revenge. Only the humble, gracious entreaty by Abigail rescued him. There is a possibility that David would have forfeited his future if he had fully swallowed the bait in this case. Sometimes our spouses or caring friends can save us from offence (taking the bait) if we are open and willing to hear.
This story also shows that there is a need for those who can gently restrain others from taking the bait, or even guide them out of the trap. Peace makers (Matt. 5:9) are needed not only in the United Nations but also in the body of Christ. Abigail interceded for her guilty husband and even more bore his reproach, willing to make up his lack. Many times offence could be defused or even avoided if there were more Abigail’s in the church.