This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
We live in an age of offense, it seems. With public expression become more the norm, especially through social media, a word or statement with which someone disagrees can open a floodgate of cries of offense. On the other hand, however, some seem to want to intentionally offend and provoke. People write posts or post memes that call other people or groups of people (such as those of opposite political identity, other religions, other viewpoints): idiots, stupid, snowflakes, nazis, fascists, dogs, and the like.
Those on the political right do it. Those on the political left do it. Even sometimes those in the middle do it.
What is disheartening and most sad is when Christians do it.
Proverbs 17:19 warns, “One who loves to offend loves strife.” And a few verses before that, we read, “To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out” (17:14).
If we love strife and start conflicts, then we do the opposite of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” And we do the opposite of what Paul wrote in Romans 12:18: “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Now, some might object: “What’s wrong with offense? The Gospel is offensive!” And so it is (see: 1 Corinthians 1:22). If we cause offense because we faithfully strive to preach the Gospel in love, that is one thing. Sinful hearts reject Jesus until they are transformed in Jesus. Yet, we are to remove, as much as able, every possible cause of offense or strife from our lives that get in the way of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
We can disagree with ideas without disparaging people who hold them. We can challenge the validity of opposing worldviews without degrading those different than us. We can strive to not offend.
Better to strive for peace and exalt Jesus in view of the world than to needlessly offend and obscure Jesus behind our words.
Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.