offended boy October 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Matthew 17:24-27; Mark 9:38-10:1; Luke 9:49-62; Matthew 18:6-19:2; Luke 9:51-62; Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 10:1-20; Matthew 11:20-24

Offenses and How to Handle Them

In today's reading Jesus deals with various kinds of offenses. Let's briefly look at what he says about each one.

Try Not to Offend

“I've got my rights!” a person may loudly proclaim. Yes, but at what price? Sometimes the fight will do more damage than good, and our insistence on having our rights can cause our testimony to be ruined. Jesus paid a tax he did not owe. Sometimes it is better to pay what we do not owe, whether that means an apology or a fee. Let’s choose our battles. Let’s fight for truth but not be belligerent and insistent on having our own way.

Offenses Against Children

Normally, we think of criminal acts against children when we speak of offenses against them, but in today's Bible reading there is another type of offense—discouraging children. A statement that many people make is “children should be seen and not heard.” This declaration is made by adults who are bothered by children who are noisy or doing inappropriate things. But if this statement is true, then why might children be this way? Perhaps, it is because they do not get enough attention and have not learned to respect their elders. Jesus says,

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, [notice the attention Jesus gives him], he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:35-37, NIV).

From these verses we learn that God loves children—not just from afar—he brings them close and gives them attention. From the gospel of Matthew (which records the same incident) we learn additional insights about children from our Lord. Jesus makes a startling statement, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (18:3, NIV).

What does Jesus mean when he says we should become like little children? We know what he means because in the following verse Jesus explains it: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (18:4, NIV). Humility and simple child-like trust are some of the admirable qualities we can learn from children. We cannot enter heaven if we are proud and too sophisticated to believe the message of the gospel, and we cannot progress spiritually. God offers each of us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

God likes children, so if we cause children to sin, we are against God and he is against us. Jesus said,

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven [what seems to be implied is that their guardian angels report to God of their welfare]. (Matthew 18:6, NIV)

Offenses Between Brothers and Sisters in Christ

God wants us to dwell in unity and peace, but offenses happen between family members, co-workers, and even Christians. How do we handle them? Jesus gives these directives in settling offenses between two parties (Matthew 18:15-17 deals with offenses from the stand-point of the offended, and Matthew 5:23-24 deals with offenses from the stand-point of the offender):

  • Handle offenses early.
  • Deal with the issue as privately as possible.
  • The goal is restoration but not compromise of truth.
  • True worship cannot occur when sin is unresolved.
  • When you are offended and someone approaches you in genuine remorse for their sins, be quick to show mercy and forgive, and do not keep records of their wrongs.

Bearing the Offense of Christ

Some prospective disciples who followed Jesus were not counting the costs. To one disciple Christ described himself as poor and homeless. The cost of following Jesus might mean that he would also be the same way. The disciple might not get the fame and privileges he hoped for by following this controversial teacher and miracle worker. Jesus did not have earthly connections to bring people wealth and prosperity. Was the prospective disciple willing to associate himself with the Lord on these terms? Are we?

To another disciple Jesus said,

“Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62, NIV).

What sound like reasonable requests for delaying obedience to the Lord and unreasonable demands from him are not what they seem. These disciples wanted to follow Christ when it was convenient, like when they were old and had nothing else to do. These men actually wanted to wait around until their parents died and they would get inheritance to spend! (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the New Testament by Walvoord and Zuck, © 1985, p. 39). Are we willing to bear the offense of Christ now, or are we caught up by our material desires?

Offense at the Message of Christ

Although people see evidence of God's work in the world, Jesus said many will not listen or appeal to God for forgiveness and change their ways. Woe to them for their judgment is coming. Arguing with them will not do any good. There is nothing to do for them but to pray. Spend your energies on those who will listen, and pray for those who won't.

Lessons to Live By

  • Try not to be offensive.
  • Do not insult children. Love children and never assume they are too young to understand the message of the gospel and be saved.
  • God offers each of us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).
  • We can learn humility and child-like faith from children.
  • God likes children, so if we cause children to sin, we are against God and he is against us.
  • To deal with offenses between brothers in Christ;
    • Handle offenses early.
    • Deal with the issue as privately as possible.
    • The goal is restoration but not compromise of truth.
    • Restoration is more important than worship and gifts given to God.
  • Count the cost for following Christ so you will not be offended if you do not get what you expected.
  • The message of Christ is offensive to many people. Spend your energies on those who will listen and pray for those who won’t.

Focus Verse

Matthew 18:4 (NIV) “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

View a video of Jesus loving children

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