Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 23, 1964

Give No Offense

Gordon Wilson

"Giving no offense in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed" (2 Corinthians 6:3).

Many passages in the word of God warn against giving offense to anyone. In I Corinthians chapter 10, Paul commands, "Give none offence, neither to the Jew, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God." Jesus also taught that we should not offend those who believe on Him (Matthew 18:6). It is clear that giving offense is sinful; but what does it mean?

Some have the idea that the Bible teaches us never to hurt anyone's feelings and never to make anyone angry by our preaching. If that were what is meant by "give no offense" then both Christ and Paul failed to practice what they preached, for persons often became angry at their preaching. It is not possible to preach the gospel without contradicting that which is believed and cherished by many.

To offend means to violate or abuse. The word is used in connection with the law of God in James 2:10: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." It is obvious that James means we should not violate or abuse the law of God as some do. In that same sense we are to "give no offense" to anyone.

It is never abusive to preach the truth if we do it in love. Often folks mistake our motives and are "offended" but for that we are not responsible. Some preachers give more attention to the way they say things than they do to what they say. There is, of course, some importance attached to how we say things, but often the how must give place to the what. When we really preach the truth with a burning love in our hearts for the souls of our audience, we shall have to give very little thought to how we say things. And no matter how we say it, some still will not like it.

All of the above is a plea to preach the gospel in a straightforward manner, without going entirely out of the way to avoid offending someone. However, we certainly have an obligation to present the truth in the most attractive manner possible, and to take care that we do not condemn error from the wrong sort of motives.

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