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Offense is like a booby trap that the enemy is using to get the saints of God unfit for the works of the ministry. It has sharp-pointed spikes that will pierced through the saints of God and render them ineffective for the extension of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior of the saints. It is more powerful than any weapon that is ever known to man, and it causes divisions and destruction in the ranks and files of the people of God. So Jesus Christ emphasizes the need not to allow it in our lives as it comes from the outside of us, wanting to fester in our hearts and spirits.
“Scandalon” is a Greek word where we get the word scandal from, and it is a tool of the enemy, Satan, the devil. It is like a trap unbeknown to man and beast, dug below and covered with things like leaves, dead branches and things that are common in the environment of the trap dug for a prey. They intended prey comes, walking along gingerly, but it does not know that evil is determined against him just a few steps in front of him. As he goes on his path, he steps forward, and behold, he is caught in the trap, and there he will experience the “scandalon”, piercing his flesh and killing him. Scandalon has many relatives and supporting characters like cruel anger, cruelty, animosity, hatred and all the works of the flesh mentioned in Gal.5:19-21. Read it for yourself, and make no room for scandalon in your life.
Jesus Christ opens this discussion in Luke chapter 17 with the fact that people will send “offense” to you like a parcel from the mailman. It will not come from you, but it will surely come from the saints and sinners, and most of them will be dear ones. It will come to you from far and near, but what you do with it is of uttermost importance. The steps you take will either make or break you. You can keep it and let it fester, or you can return it to sender with love, tenderness and mercy. It is up to you, however you deal with it, will affect you positively or negatively.
You do not have control over people’s spirits or hearts, but you have control over your own heart as to what you will allow or disallow to gain entrance into your spirit. A million things happened to people over the period of their lives, and it depends on how they handle these events. As a child of God and as saints in the Kingdom of Christ, the Lord commands you not to be a sender of offenses. He shows you what to do when they come to from another person whether known or unknown.
Christ says, “Woe unto him through whom offense come.” The sender of the offense is cursed, and he does not have the approval of God upon his life. A person who sends offense to his friends and foes is a troublemaker, and he shall not go unpunished, the Lord says. We must do all within our power not to be carrier of offenses. Do not harbor offenses within your bosom, and do not tolerate them in any form and shape. They will pollute the heart of the carrier and the receiver, and set the course of their lives on the path of hell.
Christ says to the one who is a carrier of offense to be sent to the saints and people across the world these words, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and be cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” What an indictment and severity of the judgment of the Lord upon whoever sends offenses to the saints. (v.2)
We ought to flee from offenses far away as far as we can, and not to tolerate them at all in our lives. There are some saints who have taken the words of the Lord as though they do not count, and have not heeded the stern warning. If you play with offenses in your bosom, they will burn you to crisp. Offenses are like fire. They will consume you beyond recognition.
In v.3, the Lord is still talking about offenses, and He ties them to our brother trespassing against us. If a brother sends an offense to you by words, deeds, feeling, attitude and otherwise, whatever way the offense comes to you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Settle the account quickly, and make no room for the offense to fester because love covers a multitude of offenses and sins. (1Pet.4:8) Do not treat it like a baby, and rock it in your bosom, but get rid of it quickly. It is a cancer, and if you don’t heed the urgency of the moment to send it far from you, it will be the cause of your untimely death.
If your brother sends an offense to you seven times within one day or a week, and seven times turns around again to ask for your forgiveness in repentance, you must forgive him. It is not good to play with offense or scandalon in your bosom. Your Lord and Master is rich in mercy and forgiveness, even so our we His saints. The sun must not go down upon our wrath. (Eph.4:26) It is one thing to be angry, but the anger must be vanquished before the sun goes down. You should clear and settle the matter before you go to bed.
In v.5, the apostles think that this deal about offenses is just too much to handle. So, they ask the Lord to increase their faith. It takes faith to forgive your neighbors and friends. It takes faith to admit that you are wrong, and God is right. It takes faith to relate to our fellow human beings. So the apostles ask for the increase of their faith, but faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. They are hearing the words of Christ, and faith is being generated in their hearts.
Jesus Christ replies and says to them, “If you had (past tense) faith that grows as a mustard seed, you might say unto this Sycamine tree, “be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea, and it should obey you.” A Sycamine seed is the smallest seed of all plants, but when it is sown into a good soil, it begins to grow till it becomes the biggest tree, even so our faith in Lord should be.
So Christ says, “That if you had faith that grows as a mustard seed, you will have no trouble dealing with offenses, even if they come seven times in a week. Growing faith is the answer, and with it in your life, and the Spirit of God helping you, offenses will not be harbored in your life. As long as you continue to look to the Lord who is the Author and the Finisher of your faith, you will prevail over offenses that come from without. (Heb.12:2)
He then goes on to give an illustration about a master and his servant. The servant who is returning from the farm is not asked by his lord to take the high table, and be served by him. Contrariwise, he commands his servant who has been working all day in the farm to set the table for his meal. Even so, have we have been commanded to deal pragmatically and drastically with offenses that come from the outside of us. We should say that we are unprofitable servants, and we have done that which our Lord commands. We should not make room for offenses to fester.
It is our Lord who is speaking here, and obedience is required instantly. We should not think of what we have done. We are the servants of the Lord, and we have done what is required of us in keeping our hearts pure, and opened to negate offenses, for the pure in heart shall see God. We have to deal with offenses pragmatically, and remove them far from our hearts. We have much to do by the way of carrying on the ministry of Christ, and we must not allow offenses into our hearts. Offenses will try to stand in our way by the deception of the enemy, but as faithful servants of the Lord, we must not give room to wrath. Why? The time is short! The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few: we must pray therefore, and ask the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth workers and laborers into His harvest fields. (Lk.10:2)