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|by John Lowe|
Keeping It Simple Ministries
Monday, July 23, 2007
Have you ever simply been discussing a subject with someone only to have that person get “offended”? Or someone nearby over hears a religious or political conversation that you’re having and gets “offended”? Or even worse, do you find yourself censoring your own speech in public trying not to “offend” anyone (aka, “make them mad”)? This is political correctness run amuck and doing what it was meant to do… take away freedom of speech.
Here’s a chapter from the playbook: Someone says something I don’t like… so I get angry and label them with a title such as “bigot”, “racist” or “homophobe” so that they will be cowed into not speaking again. Context is irrelevant, freedom of speech is irrelevant… if I don’t like it, it’s got to go… at all costs. Labeling, lying, polarizing and misrepresentation are all legitimate means to achieve the goal.
The truth is, one has to CHOSE to be offended. No one can make you be offended. It is a conscience decision of the will to be upset at something another says and then in turn react with anger and contempt in order to manipulate the situation.
Unfortunately, Christians are also allowing themselves to be silenced in the church and society at the “risk” of offending someone. This idea comes from a misreading of certain scriptures such as Mark 9:42 where Jesus said, “And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” The mistake many of us make is applying the modern, politically correct interpretation of the word “offend” in this verse and take away a completely WRONG understanding of this and other verses.
For instance, you know someone you thought was a brother who gets involved in a cult or attends a church that is grossly out of order concerning a key doctrine of the faith. Should you be worried that presenting the truth to this person and reasoning with them will offend them? Do you believe that this is what Mark 9:42 is talking about? No and No! I want to take this burden off you and demonstrate that the word “offend” in the verse doesn’t mean what many nowadays have thought it to mean. I want to show that if you lovingly (emphasis on lovingly of course) share the truth with someone and they get angry and claim to be offended that you have NOT disobeyed Jesus’ words in Mark 9:42.
Let’s start and finish the issue by looking at the Greek word behind the English word, “offend”. The Greek word here is Strong’s number 4624, transliterated “skandalizo”. Concerning this word the Strong’s Concordance states, “from 4625; to entrap, i.e. trip up… …or entice to sin, apostacy”.
(The other word mentioned, 4625 is transliterated “skandalon”. According to Strong’s this is a “trap-stick (bent sapling), i.e. snare”. Concerning this word William Mounce in his book, “Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words” on page 479 he states concerning its’ meaning, “skandalon is something that leads a person to sin or to fall away from faith”.)
Looking at the Strong’s definition together we can begin to see what Jesus is really talking about. Let’s read the verse with the definitions of this word placed in for better understanding, Mark 9:42 states, “And whosoever shall offend (entrap, trip up or entices to sin) one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.” With that in mind, let me ask you a question… if you, with a sincere and loving heart and a Biblical foundation try and reason with a brother who is in doctrinal (or some type of other) error, are you trying to entice them to sin? NO! You are actually trying to get them OUT OF SIN! You’re not at all trying to “trip them up” or “entrap” them. Again, the goal is to remove he or she from the trap they are currently in. If the person gets mad, there is nothing you can do. In fact, Jesus dealt specifically with this.
Matthew 15:12 states, “Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” The word offend here is the same 4624, “skandalizo” and in this context, according to Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary, this word means “generally, to offend, vex, particularly to scandalize”. The point should be made here that the same word in various contexts can have slightly different nuances of meaning. Here, in this context, our word appears to have a similar meaning to how many understand the word today (specifically “to scandalize”, “to offend the moral sense of”). Jesus said something and the Pharisees got mad (i.e. offended). Sound familiar? Now let’s look at Jesus’ reaction to their reaction.
Matthew 15:13-14 states, “But he (Jesus) answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch”. In modern day speech Jesus was basically saying that if they got mad at the truth, then tough cookies! I don’t believe that Jesus is telling us here to leave people alone and never share the truth with them BUT once that truth is shared and rejected, THEN let them be. Let me emphasize here, Jesus is talking about a very specific instance here. There is a specific context here that we are to derive our behavior from. (I do realize there may be situations where repeated attempts to deal with someone may be relevant, you’re just going to have to seek the LORD on that.)
In conclusion I believe that these two scriptures teach us two important lessons. Firstly, if we need to deal with a brother about an aberrant behavior or a false doctrine (I mean an essential doctrines here), we need not be afraid of making them angry. If we lovingly share them truth we are not “enticing them to sin” or “offending” them in the way Jesus speaks in Mark 9:42. If he or she is “offended” in the way that the Pharisee’s were in Matthew 15 then we are to leave them alone (about the issue). This example could be applied to several situations, such as sharing the gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness or reasoning with a brother about a church he or she is attending that has an aberrant view of the virgin birth. Either way, we cannot be worried about making them angry. We must share the truth in love. And if this is done correctly, then Matthew 15 applies. I hope this short article has been a help to you in deciding what to do in a situation that you may be facing. What are your thought on this article?
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