Is taking offense a sin?

By Adrina Palmer

Taking offense is not a sin. How you handle offense could be a sin, as it can lead to anger, and an unwillingness to forgive. Take a look at Luke 17:1-4:
Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him." (Emphasis added)
What Jesus is saying is offense will happen; it's impossible for an offense not to happen. He does not accuse the person who is offended. Jesus puts the blame on the individual who has caused the offense. Then Jesus goes on to say how to handle an offense. We are called to rebuke the offender, and if he repents, we are to forgive him. No matter how many times the offender offends and requests forgiveness, we are to forgive. Jesus did not say we have to forgive those who do not repent, nor do we have to keep taking offenses from someone unrepentant. However, not forgiving the offender does not hurt them, it hurts you. Not forgiving someone does nothing to them if they do not want or seek your forgiveness but it will hurt you because you will hold on to the anger.

Another example of Jesus and offense is in Matthew 21:12-14 which says:
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. ""It is written," he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it 'a den of robbers.'" The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them."
Jesus was offended because the people were selling trinkets outside of the temple meant to worship the Lord. He accused them and overturned their tables, making sure they understood their behavior was unacceptable. Then he moved on and healed people. He did not dwell on the offense. He followed his advice from Luke: rebuke, forgive, forgive again.

Proverbs 19:11 is a wonderful verse to memorize and keep near your heart when you become offended: "Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense." Other verses help to show we should be slow to anger and quick to forgive including Leviticus 19:18, Proverbs 18:19, Ecclesiastes 7:21-22, Ephesians 4:2-3, and James 1:19.

Here is another example of Jesus explaining how to handle an offense:
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." Matthew 18:15-17
Jesus is following the same pattern as before: rebuke, forgive, forgive again. But in this case, the person does not repent. So again Jesus tells us how to handle the situation. If the person being rebuked does not repent, then we are to gather a few other Christians to go rebuke the person as a group. If the offender still refuses to listen, you then must take the issue up the chain of command to the church leaders. If the person still refuses to repent, and make right their mistake, we are to consider him as a person of the world, and not a disciple of God.

Finally, look at Proverbs 6:16-19:
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
This verse clearly shows that if you become offended by someone who has wronged you, you are not at fault. The offender is to blame. However, if you refuse to forgive when the person repents, or if you allow anger to consume you, then you have a new problem on your hands, because anger is unhealthy, and can lead you away from Christ.

Image Credit: Michael; "sorry"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Christian-Life  |  Personal-Relationships  |  Sin-Evil

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