“Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
You cannot go through life without having to deal with people. The problem with people is that they all have different personalities, and each personality has different expectations. Often when those expectations are not met is when people are offended and hurt.
The verse above says that it is impossible to live life without offending others. You cannot meet everyone’s expectations because you cannot read everyone’s mind. The problem with meeting expectations is that if a person doesn’t make clear what they expect from you, you will often fail them because you don’t know what they want from you. However, not meeting someone’s expectations is often a result of our lack of consideration for the other person. In Matthew 18, there are several reasons why a person gets offended.
First, you offend others because of your lack of consideration. We live in a world that is aloof and inconsiderate of others around them. If you don’t pay attention to others around you, you will often find yourself taking them for granted. Attention to your surroundings and those around you often keep you from being inconsiderate of another’s space and feelings.
Second, trespassing against others will bring an offense. Every person has rights, and it is your responsibility to respect their rights. If something is not yours, you have no right to use it. For instance, I have no right to trespass in someone’s home or marriage. It is not my right to tell another parent how to raise their children. Likewise, you would do yourself a great favor to stay in your area and not trespass in another’s area.
Third, faults will offend people. Verse 15 talks about settling your faults with others. My friend, when you wrong people, you should apologize. Just because they are a believer and should forgive you doesn’t mean you should not apologize when you have wronged someone. Most problems with people could be solved if someone would simply apologize when they have wronged another person.
Fourth, neglecting people will offend them. The worst thing you could do is to get so busy with your life that you neglect those closest to you. Listening to them instead of being wrapped up in your technological devices will only hurt your relationships and cause offenses with each other. Many misunderstandings are caused because one person neglects to communicate with others. If you don’t neglect people and learn to communicate with them, you could avoid many offenses.
If you are going to avoid offending people, four words must become a part of your daily life. Humility, patience, forgiveness, and compassion is the answer to not offending others. When you don’t make life about yourself, are willing to give people a break, and be forgiving of them when they do wrong, you will find it to be easy to be understanding of others and their weaknesses. You may not be able to control what others do to you, but you can control how you treat others. Life is short, so don’t destroy your relationships with others by doing things that will offend them.