It certainly does seem that our society has become a bit touchy, doesn’t it? Someone says something with which another person or group disagrees and immediately it’s all over the internet, television, etc. Apologies are demanded, boycotts are often called for, lawsuits are sometimes filed and in practically every case, the person making the “offensive” remarks is labeled either intolerant, ignorant or a “something-aphobe.”
Here’s a simple fact addressed to Christians who stand up for truth: Someone is going to be offended by the truth that you teach and the life that you live. Mark it down. It will happen. It happened in Jesus’ earthly life. Matthew 13:57 records that the citizens of Nazareth were “offended in him.” What was His offense? He taught God’s Word. When Jesus was in Gennesaret, He was asked by some of His disciples, “Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matthew 15:12). What did Jesus say that caused them to be offended? He simply compared the actions of the Pharisees to the Word of God and showed them their error. He even went so far as to call them hypocrites (Matthew 15:7) and indicated that their worship was empty and that they were teaching false doctrine (Matthew 15:9). The Pharisees got offended at that. Apparently it was acceptable for them to level baseless charges against Jesus (“He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils.” – Matthew 9:34), but it was not acceptable for Him to tell them the truth. If this happened to Jesus, we should not be surprised when it happens to us. The Lord said, “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:20).
Having said this regarding others being offended by our teaching and living God’s Word, we must be sure that we are not arrogant (“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but given grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6) and that we speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). In Luke 17:1 we are warned against causing offenses. In this context, the offenses are those words and deeds that come from us that are sinful and that could lead others away from God. There is a significant difference between us being offensive and someone being offended by the truth. Notice in the verses cited in the previous paragraph that neither one says that Jesus offended His hearers. They were offended, but not by His sinful actions or deeds for He had no sin (I Peter 2:22). Others may be offended by the truth that we teach and by our Godly lives, but may we strive to not offend by the way we conduct ourselves.
People are going to be offended by the truth, even when it’s spoken with the purest of motives and from a heart of sincere love. Others’ reactions to the truth are not our responsibility. We must strive to be able to say with Paul, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:26-27). That same apostle wrote, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (I Corinthians 9:16). We must teach the truth, all the while recognizing that our lives must be consistent with our words (Romans 2:1).
I’m truly sorry when people get offended at the truth. I will admit that I have been offended by it myself at times. None of that changes the truth. The best advice I can give when teaching is to keep on telling the truth. It may not please all people, but it will please God (Galatians 1:10). The best advice I can give when we ourselves get offended at something is for us to take a look and, with an open mind, compare that which has offended us with what the Lord has said in His written Word, the Bible. You and I just might be wrong and the admission of that wrong could very well make a difference for us in eternity.