by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text Matthew 15:21-28
I. We live in a society with a chip on its shoulder
A. People are looking for reasons to complain and to blame.
B. Say the wrong word and you will find your job in jeopardy, close friends will split, or long standing members of the church will leave in a huff – never to return.
C. Paul once insulted people from the isle of Crete - Titus 1:12-13
1. If a preacher said that about your home state, would you get up and leave?
II. Christians are not to give offense
A. I Corinthians 10:32-33 - Do not offend Jews, Greeks, or Christians
B. However, today we have lost sight of the meaning of offense.
1. Today, anything I don’t like or I feel demeans my position in anyway is considered offensive.
2. People have called, as offense, the use of a pitch-pipe, to men having beards, to the lack of a suit-coat when serving the Lord’s Supper.
C. The word offense is a translation of the Greek word ‘skandalizo’ (verb) and ‘skandalon’ (noun), which means a trap or a snare
1. The young man who visits a harlot - Proverbs 7:23
2. Psalms 106:36 - Idol worship becomes a snare
3. Comfort and peace at the wrong time can be a trap - Psalms 69:22, Ecclesiastes 9:12
4. The desire for wealth can be a snare - I Timothy 6:9
D. As Christians, our duty is to lead people to Christ – not to drive them away into sin.
1. Wicked people cause others to stumble - Romans 14:20-21
2. II Corinthians 6:3 - Give no offense so the ministry is not discredited
3. An offended brother (“caused to rebel”) is hard to be won. - Proverbs 18:19
III. Yet, as much as we may try to live peaceably, we will offend people
A. Luke 17:1-2 - We all sin and at times our sins will drive others away.
B. But even righteousness will drive people away from the truth.
1. Jesus was called the rock of offense - Romans 9:33
2. Jesus did no wrong, but he caused people to choose and some will no obey the truth - I Peter 2:8
3. John’s disciples wanted to know if Jesus was the Messiah. Notice Jesus’ answer - Matthew 11:2-6
4. Yet many Jews did stumble over the things Jesus did - Matthew 13:54-57
5. They were offended by what Jesus said - Matthew 15:10-12
C. In other words, no matter what you do – good or bad – someone will see it as a reason to depart from God.
IV. Some people are offended by insults, but every insult is not an offense
A. To illustrate this, let’s read Matthew 15:21-28
1. Notice that Jesus ignored the woman (verse 23)
2. The disciples, in her presence, wanted to send her away (verse 23). Repeatedly!
3. Jesus said she was of the wrong nationality (verse 24)
4. Jesus called her and people of her nationality dogs (verse 26)
B. Did Jesus offend this woman? No, because it did not drive her away. It did not cause her to stumble.
1. Then why did Jesus insult this woman? It was a test of her faith.
2. This woman did not live by her emotions. Faith is not emotional and this woman’s faith was unshakable (verse 28)
C. When Paul made his comment about Cretans, was it to drive them away? Read Titus 1:12-13
1. No, Paul is acknowledging what the people on Crete already knew.
2. They live in a wicked society whose habits are influencing them.
3. Paul’s statement, while insulting, was needed to pin-point the cause of sin and the means of addressing it.
V. We live in a society that is looking for any excuse to claim offense
A. As Christians, we should try our hardest to minimize the offense, knowing that we will fail to completely eliminate it.
1. Some are so afraid of driving someone off, that they will avoid correcting an error.
2. They leave a brother or sister in sin, so as to avoid driving them into sin.
3. Makes great sense, huh?
B. However, as Christians, nothing should stand between us and our Lord.
1. We may be insulted. Our feelings may be hurt. But we need to be like the Canaanite woman and not allow ourselves to be offended.
2. Think about what you may be saying.
a. Does it offend you that someone is serving the Lord’s Supper without a suit and tie?
b. Are you saying that you are going leave the Lord’s church and follow the way of sin because someone is not wearing a suit?
c. You see that is what you are technically saying.
3. There are going to be times that a brother or sister may need to rebuke you.
a. It will hurt your feelings. It wouldn’t be much of a rebuke if it didn’t.
b. But if that brother is doing his part, the rebuke is supposed to keep us from falling, not to drive us away.
C. Don’t look to give offense, nor look to find offense.