Are People Rightly Offended at Us?

Sam Petitfils

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him" (Mark 6:3); "We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry" (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Do we offend people, and sometimes cause them to stumble? On the other hand, do we ever soften the gospel message lest others get offended? How do we handle these situations?

Make sure not to personally offend anyone, which is the meaning in the verse above from 2 Corinthians. Paul took great pains not to offend people in the wrong way. He conducted himself in purity, truth, and kindness (see 2 Corinthians 6:6-7). If he personally offended people with his attitude, speech or even appearance, then he became the issue and not the gospel. He therefore conducted himself in the highest integrity lest the gospel suffer because of his actions.

Let the gospel do the offending. When we proclaim God's Word, some indeed will take offense. This occurred in the verse above from Mark 6. Jesus' faithful proclamation and lifestyle offended the status quo, and He thus toppled the apple cart. No one could ever say he or she was ever put out or offended by Jesus' personal character. His character was spotless.

What can we take away from this? First of all, we need to faithfully live out the Christian life, come what may. We sometimes see Christians who operate one way in church, one way at family functions, and still another way around friends. They adjust their behavior according to the crowd. This chameleon approach may spare us personal grief, but it may also blunt our Christian witness. Secondly, we should take great pains not to offend others with rude behavior, a selfish disposition, or an argumentative spirit. This takes effort and, of course, God's grace. Nevertheless, we need to strive to reflect Christ in all we do.

Jesus offended people for all the right reasons. He did not adapt His message to suit the times. Instead He faithfully taught others the living and abiding Word of God. The apostles followed Jesus' example. On the other hand, if we're not careful, we can cause others to stumble by our less than positive example. we need to avoid this lest we become a stumbling block to other people. Let your lights shine so that others may see your good works and be drawn to God (see Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).

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