Don’t Eat the Cheese!
There are several stories in the Bible about offense. In the Old Testament we find the story of Naaman in 2 Kings chapter five who needed healing from leprosy. He heard that Elisha the prophet could heal him, so he traveled from Syria to Israel seeking freedom from his dreaded disease. Elisha sent his servant to meet Naaman and told him to dip seven times in the Jordon River and he would be healed. Naaman was highly offended! After all, he was an important commander in the Syria army and was used to being given much respect. Elisha didn’t even come to the door upon Naaman’s arrival and then had the gall to ask Naaman to wash in the dirty Jordon River. Only at the urging of his servant did Naaman carry out Elisha’s request. He rose out of the Jordon River completely healed! Offense almost stole Naaman’s provision for healing!
In the New Testament we find a sad story of offense that wasn’t repented from and left many in the town of Nazareth unhealed. Jesus had been teaching the parables on the kingdom of God to multitudes for many days as recorded in Matthew 13. With great wisdom and power, he had explained the mysteries of his father’s kingdom. At the end of the chapter we find this story. Matthew 13: 53-58 (NLT) “When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn all these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” And so, he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.”
It’s easy to note three key words in this passage – offense, honor and unbelief. Although the people in Nazareth heard Jesus’s wisdom and saw his miracles they couldn’t get beyond their natural reasoning and knowledge. They were offended and took what is often called the bait of Satan. In the Geek language the noun for offense is “skandalon”. It refers to the bait stick of a trap. When we become offended we take the bait from the trap, springing the lever that’s designed to kill the prey. It’s kind of like the cheese on the mouse trap! Once the mouse nibbles on the cheese, the trap-stick is released and well, you know the results. In the New Testament this word, “skandalon” is always used metaphorically of “that which hinders right thought or conduct”.
The second notable word in this passage is honor. The word for honor is “hadar” and it means splendor, glory, adornment, magnificence and beauty. The verb form means “to make splendid”.
The people of Nazareth had the opportunity to honor, make splendid their native son, Jesus. But instead they dishonored him. They made the son of God illegitimate, a mere local family member. When we are in offense against someone we dishonor them with our words and our actions. Instead of making them splendid we tear them down, often publicly.
The third word in this passage is unbelief. Offense steals faith. It stops your offense, forward motion, and it keeps you in status quo, unfulfilled and without the miracle you need. You cannot believe in a person, a spouse, a child or even a God you are offended with.
If I had to give you a basic reason as to why we get offended I would say it is because someone didn’t do what we wanted, the way we wanted it done. Offense is an acceptable sin in our society because we feel like we have the right to “have it our way”.
Let’s be like Naaman who repented and received, not like the citizenry of Nazareth who chose offense over their miracles! It’s easy to eat the cheese but remember it’s a trap!