We all think that giving offense is a bad thing, right? Well, not always. It depends. You may give offense unknowingly just by walking into a room, and that is not (usually, anyway) culpable. But we seldom realize that taking offense can be a sin we really do need to confess. We usually assume that if we are offended, that is the moral high ground, and whatever caused it must be a sin. But that is not true.
Jesus offended the Jews like crazy, and of course He was not guilty of any sin. They were the guilty ones, guilty for taking offense at the Messiah, for having their pride wounded, for being angry that their toes were stepped on. They stumbled over the stone which was given for their deliverance.
In our culture today, when someone is offended, everyone stops with shocked silence. We think that taking offense means that someone actually, objectively wronged us and is therefore guilty of some sin or crime. But that is not always the case. For example, if my “Merry Christmas!” offends my neighbor, then that is his problem, not mine. If I must live to please all my neighbors, then I will have an uphill battle, that is for sure.
Of course sometimes we are offended by real sinfulness in another person, and we should be. But more often than not, we are offended by imaginary sins or by personality quirks. For example, your roommate has an annoying habit, and it gets on your nerves. You should not be offended. The new bride did not send you a thank-you note. You should not be offended. Your friend did not invite you to her Christmas party. You should not be offended. Your husband didn’t read your mind and know that you wanted to talk. You should not be offended. Your boss complimented your co-worker when you did all the real work. You should not be offended. These things may not be sins at all. You may be attributing motives to each of the offendees, and you may be wrong.
Now this is tricky. Our flesh is very good at taking offense. We are offended quite easily and take pleasure in it. A mother can be offended when her four-year-old spills milk on the freshly mopped floor. A wife can be offended when her husband fails to compliment herÂ on dinner or on the new haircut. A daughter can be offended when Mom suggests that her skirt is too tight. Neighbors can be offended by the political signs in your yard or the noise from your family barbecues. We can become offended by sales clerks, traffic lights, grocery prices, or coffee that isn’t hot enough.
So I am suggesting that taking offense is wrong, bad, and sinful. Instead of assuming that the offending party is the one in the wrong, consider assuming that you are wrong to take offense. Then work from there. It’s amazing how it will simplify your life.