Throughout the Gospels, Jesus frequently warned the Pharisees as well as His disciples using stern words about their pride, personal opinions and self-righteous hypocrisy. He spoke strong warnings because they often offended the faith of His redeemed children.
“Then said He unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offenses come; but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” (Luke 17:1-2 KJV)
His words are not hard to understand, as sinful beings we often offend. Consider how we often treat one another, even in the church. One might expect this among unbelievers, but not among Christians. And yet, Christians do.
What’s striking about Jesus' words is that He specifically levels this “woe” against His disciples, and we know a “woe” is a serious warning. So might we draw the conclusion that Jesus wants His redeemed children to consider the severity involved in causing a brother or sister to stumble and fall in their understanding of the faith? Is He not stating that we as Christians can offend and thus fall under this “woe”?
There is an example on YouTube, I believe, of such an offense being made where a young boy proclaims himself to be a girl, whereas his father, a pastor, and his mother fully support his decision. Who also at the age of 11 was encouraged by his church to publicly proclaim that being transgender is God pleasing and should reflect how the church of the future ought to look.
No doubt many believe this to be God pleasing even though God is quite clear that this type of teaching rejects His order for creation where He formed us to be either male or female. Is this not, then, an offense to His little ones?
So why has such an offense been laid upon a generation of innocent children? Why are they being taught to deny God’s created order, His commandments and most assuredly His Gospel where He teaches us, “To repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” when we offend.
And the answer is as Jesus' warning makes clear, as Christians we are not exempt from letting our sinful desires and opinions become an offense.
Jesus plainly does not turn a blind eye to our offenses. He does not support any form of love that denies His created order or His Commandments where He defines His divine love in this way, “Love works no ill to its neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10 KJV)
Consequently, to subvert the Law that calls us to be responsible to it and the Gospel that calls us to repentance when we have caused offense is the actual offense being made in this example. But there is a way out for us as Jesus states, “Take heed to yourselves. If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3 KJV)
God’s Word is powerful and He is able to rebuke our sinful desires and actions with it. Accordingly, Christians are given the responsibility to hold one another accountable to His Word. We are all called to encourage one another to repent and forgive as we come to God humbly to receive His forgiveness for our offenses.
And for this, we thank God that He has given us way out from under His “woes” through the remission of our sins that Christ graciously pours out upon us through His shed blood.
Consider, then, that what you say and do can potentially offend, not only God but His children. Let your thoughts and actions reflect His Word of truth.
But if you offend, ask God to bring you to repent as Jesus taught the Apostles who wisely asked for this needed gift in order to do so, “Lord, Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5 KJV)