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What the Bible says about Offending by Words
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 18:15

Matthew 18:15 instructs us to deal honestly with a brother over an offense, and not to tell it to others. This is also a great challenge. When irritated or offended, the first thing we want to do is to talk about it! We want to receive encouragement, comfort, understanding, or just get it off our chests. It is critical, though, for us to temper our honesty with the loving attributes of God's Spirit, and solve our differences with words that heal, encourage, and enable greater affection to grow. Honesty may at times require forgiveness and forbearance that neglect and lying might let slide by.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)

Matthew 18:15

Mark well that Jesus says, "If your brother sins against you. . . ." The Greek word for "sins" is hamartano, which can also be translated as "trespass," "commit a fault," or "offend."

Hamartano can also imply the making of a mistake, and this is important to note. The offense might be the result of an innocent mistake by the offender—or the offended person might be mistaken in feeling offended. The discovery of a mistake or misunderstanding by either party can come out in Step Number One, the private communication between the offending and the offended parties.

Please notice that Jesus wants us to resolve such problems at the simplest possible level, if at all possible, before taking it to other people and definitely before taking it to the ministry. It should almost go without saying that we must pray about it in advance. If it is a major problem, we might also want to fast about it in order to draw close to God.

But what if the offender will not discuss the problem in a reasonable manner? What if he will not admit that he has done anything offensive? And worst case, what if he "blows a gasket" and yells at us for even bringing it to him—even in this proper, Christ-sanctioned way?

Then we must go on to the next step (Matthew 18:16).

Staff
Islands and Offenses

1 Corinthians 10:32

Notice that the apostle Paul is writing to church members, advising them not to offend fellow church members!

And what did Jesus say on the subject?

Then [in the end time] they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. (Matthew 24:9-10)

He tells us of a future time when people will offend each other—to the point of betrayal! What else does our Savior tell us about offenses?

Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." (Luke 17:1-2)

Who are "these little ones"? Usually, this term would refer to children and to the newer members and attendees of God's church. But the term might also refer to those who perhaps tend to be a little more sensitive than most.

So, if Jesus says that it is impossible that no offenses should come, then how should we handle those offenses when they do come?

Keep in mind that, no matter which side of the fence we are on—whether we are the offended or the offender—it will not be easy. Solomon writes in Proverbs 18:19, "A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle."

What should we do if a fellow church member offends us? Should we immediately go running to the local minister and demand that the offender be disfellowshipped? Of course not! Instead, we are to use Jesus Christ's four-step plan, which He gives us in Matthew 18:15-17.

Certainly, this may not be the most pleasant way of resolving the problem. It would be much easier to just give it to the minister and let him resolve it. But this is the method that Jesus commands His brothers and sisters to use.

Staff
Islands and Offenses

James 3:2

We all make mistakes—and probably a majority of them are verbal. The challenge before us is to learn to control our words and use them effectively in dealing with others. For followers of Christ, "effective use of words" is using them as Christ and the Father do. If we do anything less, we stumble and run the risk of offending.

So great is this challenge that, if we can master our tongue, we have in essence come to master our entire bodies. We could conclude from this that our bodies function as they are instructed. We instruct our bodies and minds through words, whether spoken or thought. In other words, the mind speaks, and the body follows. We lead ourselves, as well as others, with our words.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part One)


 




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