The Bait of Satan is Being Offended

Each day the news is filled with someone being offended and the consequences of that offense. In this politically correct landscape one cannot employ or be associated with an offender. Trouble is that each of us at some point have likely done something, innocently enough, that could have caused offense. If we live, we all are going to have opportunities to offend someone and to be offended. Every day, we are presented with multiple opportunities to get offended. It can be as minor as someone cutting us off in traffic or stealing our parking spot. Other times we can feel deeply hurt by a friend’s offhanded rude or harsh comment.

We have gotten to where everyone gets a trophy in youth sports so that no one is offended; we lower the standards of Honor Society, so we don’t offend people. Politically correct speech is an outcome of not wanting to offend anyone. The news is filled with protest over being offended – then their protesting offends others. One person notes their offense, which in turns creates an offense to another, which in turn offends the original offender and then an additional person. A never-ending doom loop.

The Bait of Satan is a book by John Bevere. In his book, he discusses that being offended and giving an offense is a bait of Satan. Holding onto offenses and intentionally offending someone is a bait of Satan. The word “offense” comes from the Greek word scandalon; an interesting word that literally describes a trap used to hold bait in order to lure animals. This bait can entice individuals into a lifetime of bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, strife, hatred and revenge.

Society is raising many angry, offended children and releasing them into the world. A world that is filled with tragedies like Will Smith, the former Ohio State Buckeye and New Orleans Saint, who was gunned down over a fender bender.

I remember once when my Dad gave a panhandler (I think at the time we called them a hobo or bum) some money without a thank you being extended by the man. I was stunned and remarked to my Dad how rude that was – I was offended. My Dad responded that giving him the money was a reflection on my Dad, but how the man appreciated it was a reflection on him. My Dad took no offense.

I am attempting to be exceptional by not being offended. I have found that not being offended has made me happier and feeling better in my relationships. People sometimes build their own self-worth on the ability to offend others. So why feed their fire and take Satan’s bait? Consider Jesus and the Pharisees – it was not about Jesus, it was all about them.

Brown University’s Marc Dunkelman notes that there was a time when we interacted with our neighbors and fellow citizens, whether we agreed with them or not. Those communities and townships have been replaced with ‘digital’ networks where we create our group based on a commonality of thought. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse agrees. He notes that “cultural fragmentation, technological developments, and economic upheaval have undermined the feeling of togetherness that Americans shared just a few short decades ago.”

Sasse feels “anti-tribes” (his term) have risen up to fill the void left by the collapse of “the natural, local, embodied, healthy tribes people have traditionally known.” Anti-tribes are united by their commitment, not to the common good but, to their common perceived enemy to which they all can take offense. He concludes: “It’s not legislation we’re lacking; it’s the tight bonds that give our lives meaning, happiness, and hope. It’s the habits of heart and mind that make us neighbors and friends.” The right heart.

As parents, coaches and mentors we must model forgiveness and not an offended spirit. There will always be something, someone, some words that can offend us. People were offended by Jesus (Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:3). Scripture gives us some principles on how to handle offenses (Matthew 18:15-17). If someone offends us, we are to go to that person and try to make amends with them. Yes, the person who is offended makes amends. Those who are offended, are in error. In Mark 11:25 it says that you are to “forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance” as you stand to pray. We are called to walk the higher ground. We may have made the offense bigger than what it was. The truth is we are all human and do get offended at times. The solution is to let the offense go and move on. The last thing Jesus said to John the Baptist in Matthew 11:6 was “blessed is one who takes no offense at me.”

In our current divided and chaotic times, Christianity offers us something unique and vital – community. The church is consistently pictured in Scripture as a community–a vine with many branches (John 15:1-8), a body with many members (1 Corinthians 12:27). This community is based on unity, not uniformity. Our unity is found in Christ, not in particular cultures and agendas. When Peter preached at Pentecost, people from fifteen different language groups heard the gospel (Acts 2:9-11). From its inception, the Christian movement united Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female (Galatians 3:28). The more divisive our secular culture, the more essential our spiritual community.

The closer we move to Jesus Christ, the closer we move to each other. We can choose to not be offended because we can take responsibility for how we respond to life’s situations. We decide whether to take the bait or not. Understand that God allowed the ‘wrong’ to happen, maybe to build character or maturity in us. The right heart learns from offenses. The right heart seeks unity, not division. The right heart does not take the bait.

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