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Dealing with Offences - Rev Funke Ewuosho
Jesus said it is impossible that no offence should come (Lk.17:1). That means we might as well brace up ourselves offences and learn how to deal with them when they come. One of the things I"ve found out in our Christian walk is that, not all mountains are meant to "be removed and be cast into the sea". Some are meant to be climbed on, that"s when a ‘stumbling block" becomes a ‘stepping stone" to greater heights. Yet, some mountains are meant to be broken through! David"s mighty men broke through the garrison of the Philistines to get water from the well for David. (2 Sam.23:14-16). They didn"t hold a prayer meeting and hoping to wake up the next day to find the Philistines all gone. That could happen, but it didn"t work that way this time.
Let me first define the word ‘offence". In the Hebrew, it means; obstacle, enticement, stumbling block, etc. In the Greek, it also means,; a trap stick, i.e. a snare, cause of displeasure or sin, occasion to fall, etc. And in plain English, it means; wounding of the feelings, annoyance or resentment caused by this.
Causes Of Offence
1. Jesus, Himself
- "He will be a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, be snared and taken." (Isa.8:14, 15). When Baby Jesus was brought into the temple, Simeon blessed Him and said to Mary, "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel and for a sign which will be spoken against." (Lk.2:34).
Do you know how many are offended in Jesus today? Many are disappointed in Him and a lot of things that seem inexplicable are blamed on Him. And we are not only talking about unbelievers, but sad to say, believers too! Jesus sent to John the Baptist in the prison, "And blessed is he who is not offended in Me" (Matt.11:6). Jesus warned His disciples on the night of His arrest, that they would all be made to stumble because of Him. (Matt.26:31). How true; that was the night Peter denied Jesus 3ce before the cock crowed. People were also offended at the teachings of Jesus. (Jn.6:48-68). People were offended at Jesus in His home town because they knew Him too well in the natural to accept his claim to divinity. (Matt.13:54-57). The Apostle said, they once knew Jesus after the flesh, but then no longer. (2 Cor.5:16). The cross of Christ was also an offence to people. (Gal. 5:11). Some folks also are offended when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word. (Matt.13:21).
2. Satan -
Jesus began to tell His disciples about how He was going to suffer in the hands of the Jewish religious leaders. Peter then took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying that will not happen to Jesus. But Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get thee behind Me, satan! You are an offence to Me , for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." (Matt.16:23). The underlined is the secret to discerning satanic operations and set-ups; satan will always set a trap for you by appealing to your flesh! Do you remember the temptations of Eve and of Christ? Satan doesn"t want us to mind the things of God but what we want, think and feel, as opposed to what God wants, thinks or feels.
3. Things About Us
- Jesus said, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you." (Matt. 5:29,30). The word ‘sin", also means ‘offend" or ‘stumble". In the Jewish mind, the right hand represents strength, ability, authority, indispensability, etc. So when Jesus talked about them plucking out their right eye and cutting off their right hand, He must have gotten their attention real fast. Secondly, notice Jesus wasn"t talking about somebody else"s eye or hand causing them to sin, but their very own eye and hand! Think about it. It is easier to deal ruthlessly with others than ourselves. What are those things about you that cause you to stumble? Paul said, "But I discipline my body and bring it to subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself become disqualified." (1 Cor.9:27)
4. Inter-Personal Relationships
- The Bible says we should resolve not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother"s way and also that it is good neither to eat or drink anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. (Rom.8:13,21). We also offend by what we say; the bible says if anyone doesn"t offend in words, he is a perfect (i.e. mature) man, able to bridle the whole body. (Jas. 3:2).
How To Deal With Offences
First and foremost, I want to highlight that though Jesus is called the rock of offence, the purpose for which He causes offence is not for us to stumble. Satan is the one who wants us to stumble and fall; he wants to hinder us from the purposes of God. Jesus and satan are not on the same platform, neither are they next of kin. &&&When they told Jesus that the Pharisees were offended at His teaching, he replied: "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted." (Jn. 15:130. God showed me from this that offences can act as that which can root out of our lives the things which are not planted by God. Offences reveal and root them out; things like, pride, selfishness, poor self-esteem, jealousy, rivalry, etc. These things are not the plantings of the Lord and they deserve to go, so they don"t destroy us! Think about it, when you are offended, what is stirred up in you? Your pride, of course! That is the very thing God, in His wisdom, meant for that offence to root out, if we cooperate with Him. Fire reveals the ‘serpent" nature, so it can be dealt with. Over the years, I have seen that God Himself orchestrates offence for this purpose. On the other hand, if we don"t allow the offence to root out what God hasn"t planted in us, but rather we get offended, then we are the ones that will be rooted out! Simply put: God wants to use offences to root out of our lives what He hasn"t planted, whereas, satan wants to use them to root us out of where God has planted us!
How then do we Deal with Offences?
- There are many things we don"t understand, let"s learn to trust God and His word and even to trust God in people! "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding." (Pr.3:5). David said, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in You". Trust is a function of your will, it is a decision you make, independent of what you see, think or feel. "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil." (Ps.23:4). I don"t think Joseph understood why he had to go through what he went through as at the time he was going through them, but I believe he trusted God to fulfil His word and he trusted his entire life into God"s hand. That was Joseph"s antidote against offence. In our relationships, the Bible says, love believes all things, so we believe the best about people, even when it"s hard.
2. Be full of God"s love and His word
- "Great peace have those who love Your law and nothing causes them to stumble." (Ps.119:165). God"s law is the law of love: loving God with all our hearts, , mind and strength, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. Therefore, if we love this law, we won"t stumble. "He who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him." (1 Jn.2:10). Have you noticed that when you are full of God and delighting greatly in His word, you don"t have room for offences? The Bible says, love is not provoked and keeps no record of wrongs done against it. (1 Cor.13:5).
3. Avoid Judging
- There are many things you don"t understand, so avoid making judgments about them. "But these speak evil of whatever they do not know" (Jude 10). Have you noticed the tendency to suspect what you don"t understand? Let"s learn from David: "LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty, neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me." (Ps.131:1). Jesus said we shouldn"t judge so that we ourselves be not judged.
4. Don"t Impose Your Convictions On Others
- Respect people and give them their space, they have a right to be different from you. The Bible uses the ‘Body" metaphor to depict the diversities among believers; each body part is different from the other. Yet, there is unity in diversity! Diversity doesn"t necessarily mean disunity. Read Romans 14:1-13. Verse 5 actually says, "Let each be fully convinced in his own mind."
5. Deal With The Real Issues Of Your Own Heart
- Like I said earlier on, offences are meant to uproot out of us the things that aren"t planted of God. The truth is, there is a whole of baggage in the human nature that are contrary to God"s nature and they deserve to go! "But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth." (Jas.3:14). This reminds me of Aaron and Miriam, they criticized Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman. In principle, they were right, but their heart wasn"t right. They said to Moses: "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?" (Num. 12:2). What had marrying an Ethiopian woman got to do with that? That showed that the real issues of their hearts were, envy, selfish ambition, pride, rebellion, etc. That was why Jesus said to them, "Hypocrite! First remove the plank in your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother"s eye." (Matt. 7:5).
6. Don"t Blame Others For Your Predicament
- A lot of time, we are offended at people because somehow, we think they are responsible for our troubles or situation. Adam blamed his disobedience on God and Eve, in one statement: "The woman whom You gave to be with me gave me of the tree and I ate." (Gen. 3:12). Even Jesus was blamed for the death of Lazarus! Mary said to Him, when He eventually showed up, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." And some who were around said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind also have kept this man from dying?" (Jn.11:32, 37). Many today are blaming their lack of success in life on their parents not giving them proper education, so they are offended in them. Yet many blame the government, their spiritual leaders, their employers, etc, for their predicament, and they are full of offences. It"s time to take full responsibility for your life and your actions, that is called maturity!
7. Learn to confront
- Confrontation is not necessarily negative or hostile, so we don"t need to be afraid of it or run away from it. To confront simply means, to bring (a person) face to face with something. Jesus said, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." (Matt. 18:15). Unfortunately, oftentimes we reverse the whole order: we tell others first and he is the last to know about what he has done wrong! We spread even stories we"ve not verified from the person concerned. We have too many phoney and hypocritical relationships because we all run away from confronting issues with one another. Also, in Matthew 5:23, Jesus said if we bring our gift to the altar and there remember that our brother has something against us, we should leave the gift there and go and first be reconciled to him and then come back to offer our gift. When we notice there is an unseen wall between us and another, Jesus expects us to take the initiative in restoring the relationship. &8. Forgive
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:31, 32). What this tells me that offence would lead to anger, evil speaking , malice, unkindness and even hard-heartedness, and the solution is, to forgive. To forgive is, to let go of the issues; to drop the ‘charges" we have against the person; to tear off the ‘I.O.U." sheet. The unforgiving servant held his fellow-servant by the throat and said to him, "Pay me what you owe." (Matt. 18:28), that is the definition of lack of forgiveness.
God bless you.