Proverbs 19:11 – “A man’s wisdom gives him patience. It is to his glory to overlook an offense.”
If you are like me, you’ve probably noticed an increase in people taking offense over just about anything today. Proverbs 18:19 says, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like bars of a castle.” It is almost impossible to penetrate the resistance of a person contesting something, while in a spirit of offense. Webster defines offense as, “Anything that causes displeasure, anger, resentment. An insult, an attack.” What stands out the most to me in that definition is the word “anything.” It seems that just about anything and everything said or done today causes somebody to become offended. I have noticed, however, that those with sensitive toes seem to be a lot more concerned about their toes being stepped on, than stepping on the toes of others. James 3:2 reminds us, “If anyone does not offend in speech – never says the wrong thing – he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.” (Amplified Bible). I don’t think any of us have reached that stature yet, nor can we. If people can be offended by “anything,” it is virtually impossible not to offend somebody by something.
Even Jesus offended people and he was a perfect man. Matthew 13:57 gives the account of the people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, being “offended in him” for doing nothing more than being who he was. They thought he was trying to be someone he was not, so they reminded him of where he came from, so to speak. They said, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Where then did this man get all these things?” “And they took offense at him.” They were basically saying, “Who does he think he is?” We can’t always control whether or not someone is going to choose to be offended by what we say, what we do, or even who we are. Sometimes offending a person can’t be avoided. Speaking the truth is often going to offend people; nothing we can do about that. It is a true statement, “If you’re not living in the will of God, you’re uncomfortable with the word of God.” (Unknown).
While we’re being so sensitive about being offended, we might want to consider a couple of offenses Jesus mentions in his word. In speaking of the great harvest at the end of the age, Jesus tells his disciples, “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of offense – persons by whom others are drawn into error or sin – and all who do iniquity and act wickedly. And cast them into the furnace of fire; there will be weeping and wailing and grinding of teeth.” (Matthew 13:41-42). Jesus considers drawing others into error or sin to be an offense. That’s one offense we might want to be a little more careful of not committing. In Luke 7:23, Jesus said, “Blessed is the man who is not offended in me.” (Does not fall away on account of Jesus words.) Many people will be glad to discuss the gospel with you, as long as it doesn’t touch their lives too personally, then it becomes an offense. Felix, who had taken another man’s wife, after being convicted by Paul’s words, said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave.” (Acts 24:25). Felix didn’t want to hear the truth. Most don’t. Being offended by the truth and turning away from God’s word is yet another offense we need to be careful of. In Matthew 6:14, in teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus said, “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” For those unaware, the definition of trespass is, “a wrong or an offense.” We definitely need to work on that one today.
When Jesus’ disciples asked him to tell them the signs of his coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3-14), his first response was to warn them to watch out that no one deceived them. False prophets claimed to hear from God, but “they said what the people wanted to hear, even when the nation was not following God.” (NIV Life Application Study Bible). There’s a lot of that going around today, too. If the nation’s not following God, hearing reassurance from false prophets won’t mean anything. The commentary on this passage in the NIV Life Application Study Bible says, “Don’t look for special signs and don’t spend time looking at other people. Look at Christ.” That’s sound advice for today. After warning of false prophets, Jesus then went on to list a number of things that would occur leading up to to his return. He said, “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these are merely the beginning of birth pains.” In light of the spirit of offense that seems to be increasing in our world today, verse 10 caught my eye. It says, “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” When reading this scripture, I always focused on all the catastrophes that would take place before Jesus returned. I completely overlooked the part that a spirit of offense, causing us to “betray one another” and to “hate one another,” would play in ushering in the end times. I think it’s safe to say the birth pains Jesus spoke of are definitely intensifying today. It kind of feels like the final stage of pregnancy, where you’re close to delivery, but you know there’s still a little time left to go.
The body goes through a series of stages before the appointed time of birth arrives. No one knows the exact time their child will be born, but the closer the woman gets to delivery, there are three things that always occur. The labor pains intensify, they are closer together, and the woman’s groans grow louder. Romans 8:22 says, “The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Considering all the natural disasters taking place around the world today, the birth pains of nature on this planet certainly seem to be intensifying and coming closer together, and its’ groaning definitely seems to be getting louder. Maybe the closer this planet gets to giving birth to a “new heaven and a new earth” the more intense the labor pains are becoming for it as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 warns, “While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman and they will not escape.” Any woman who has ever given birth knows the “suddenly” that follows the intensity of labor. The time of birth finally arrives, and after all the discomfort, pain and suffering of labor, one final push and “suddenly” it’s over. Jesus said all these things were, “the beginning of birth pains,” which would mean labor had begun. By the look of things in our world today, labor has progressed and the birth pains have intensified. I would say we’re pretty close to delivery. We might want to hold back on that spirit of offense. Like my doctor told me when I was close to delivery, “Just a couple more pushes, and it’s all over.”
Time has an appointment which it is sure to keep
Suddenly it will arrive as steadily it creeps
We live our lives within the approaching of its’ day
We laugh, we cry, we live, we die, as time comes without delay
God holds within His sovereign hand, it is not yours or mine
A time for every purpose and a purpose for every time
It is not a matter of if, but when it will arrive
From its appointed destination, there is no place to hide
As a time for every purpose heeds the voice of God’s command
Suddenly time will arrive to serve its’ Master’s hand
The wisdom of God’s prophets though spoken long ago
Suddenly will come to pass, just as was foretold
Time pregnant with the word of God’s omnipotent command
Will in its’ time give birth to the eternal life of man
And suddenly time and no time will embrace as one
As the fulfillment of all time finally has come
Then at last we will know what we could not comprehend
The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End
The Bridegroom will appear to claim His long-awaited bride
O’er the threshold of heaven’s doors, He will carry her inside
And time will then relinquish all that it has stored
Unto the omnipotent hand of its’ sovereign Lord
And like a faithful servant submit on bended knee
The purpose of its’ existence to all eternity
(Daniel 8:19 – “I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time, the end shall come.”)