Taking Offense: Do We Really Understand and Implement Matthew 18:15 with the Power and Fruits of the Holy Spirit?
Matthew 18:15 if your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.
It has seemed to me that we like to skip this verse and go directly to vs. 16 & 17.
Matthew 18:16-17 but if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.
I believe that as many in the Body of Christ are wounded by the miss-use of this principle as there are wounded by the lack of use of this principle.
How often have you heard “that offended me”? Are we aware that we can not be offended unless that is our personal choice? Eph. 6:16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].
If someone gives offense or curses us, we don’t have to receive or accept it. If we don’t, it will return to the giver. Prov. 26:2 like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
Ps. 64:2-3 hide me from the secret counsel and conspiracy of the ungodly, from the scheming of evildoers, Who whet their tongues like a sword, who aim venomous words like arrows,
Matt 5:44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them.
Proverbs 25:21-23 If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord will reward you. The north wind brings forth rain; so does a backbiting tongue bring forth an angry countenance.
Romans 12:19-21 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not let yourself be overcome by evil, but overcome (master) evil with good.
If someone gives a blessing or a gift and we don’t receive it, they will not receive the blessing of giving from the Lord.
The Biblical usage of “offense:
- having nothing to strike against, not causing to stumble
- Of a smooth road
- Metaph. Of not leading others to sin by one’s mode of life.
- not striking against or stumbling
- metaph. Not led into sin, blameless
- without offense, not troubled by a consciousness of sin
Acts 24:16 Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.
Philippians 1:10 So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble].
In the November 2006 issue of Charisma magazine, David Cannistraci, in an article called “Don’t Be Offended” listed five laws for resolving offenses. He says that “when it’s time to clear up a conflict, following the rules in this verse will keep us from falling”.
- The Law of Sensitivity: Jesus began by saying, “If your brother sins against you.” This is a call to assess if we have truly been sinned against or are we just being oversensitive. Sin means that someone has violated Scripture and offended God. The fact that we don’t approve of someone’s actions doesn’t mean he has actually sinned. Let us allow the Word to set our sensitivity levels. Ps. 119:165 Great peace have they who love Your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.
- The law of Honesty: Jesus said: “Go and tell him his fault” because we need to be honest with ourselves and those who have offended us. It is both dishonest and dangerous to pretend we are not offended. If a valid issue has come up, we should approach our offender. Ignoring him only creates a hothouse of pent-up emotions in which bitterness and unforgiveness can germinate. John 20:21-23 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you! [Just] as the Father has sent Me forth, so I am sending you. And having said this, He breathed on them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit! [Now having received the Holy Spirit, and being led and directed by Him] if you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.
- The Law of Privacy: Jesus said the problem is to be solved “between you and him alone”. WE need to keep others out of it. Gossip and tale bearing may masquerade as something more refined, such as “sharing” or a prayer request, but they are still both sinful. Violating the law of privacy may be a greater sin than the original offense because it multiplies the problem throughout the local body of believers and opens the door to division. 2 Cor. 12:20 For I am fearful that somehow or other I may come and find you not as I desire to find you, and that you may find me too not as you want to find me–that perhaps there may be factions (quarreling), jealousy, temper (wrath, intrigues, rivalry, divided loyalties), selfishness, whispering, gossip, arrogance (self-assertion), and disorder among you.
- The Law of Responsibility: The words of Jesus “if he hears you” raise the issue of our responsibility to listen when we are confronted. Everyone’s healing depends on it. Ideally, forgiveness will be extended between the parties and the relationship will be saved. If your words are ignored, take the situation to the Lord in prayer and try another approach. Matt. 5:23-25 So if when you are offering your gift at the altar you there remember that your brother has any [grievance] against you, Leave your gift at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come back and present your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way traveling with him, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.
- The Law of Victory: Jesus defined a successfulresolution with the words, “you have gained your brother”. The goal of honest confrontation is to regain the relationship, not further damage it. Victory is a win-win outcome so that no one walks away from the encounter shamed or rejected. Eph. 4:15 Rather, let our lives lovingly [a]express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Remember that the Greatest Commandment: Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light–which are heavy?] And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.