Are you too worried about offending others?

“Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” This was the question the disciples asked Jesus (Matthew 15:12).

I wonder how often they thought to ask this question.

Jesus’ answer is very direct and challenging – especially to those who are overly concerned about offending others. 

He didn’t say, “Please tell them I am sorry. They must have misunderstood me. I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings.” 

Instead, he replied, ‘Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted, so ignore them. They are blind guides leading the blind, and if one blind person guides another, they will both fall into a ditch’” (Matthew 15:13-14, NLT). 

Jesus was unmoved by concern that he offended the pharisees. Are we sometimes overly concerned about offending others? 

Are there times when we should expect offenses and actually understand them to be appropriate and necessary? 

Jesus’ words “ignore them” are forceful. Yet they are rarely understood and applied. Other translations say,

  • Let them alone (ESV)
  • Leave them (NIV)
  • Stay away from those Pharisees! (CEV)
  • Greek – ἄφετε (aphete) – to send away, release or leave alone 

How should we apply these words? Are there some people we should “leave alone”? Do we allow the wrong people to set the agenda for life and ministry?

Is there a way to know which plants have not been planted by the Heavenly Father? What kinds of people fit the description of the Pharisees today (see link below, #4)? These are always important questions for the Church — especially for leaders.

Consider the following questions and resources (discuss them with your leadership team)

Deeper reflection and discussion

  1. How do Jesus’ words in Matthew 15:12-14 relate to Matthew 7:6?  – “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (See: Dogs, pigs and…)
  2. Relate Matthew 15:12-14 to Jesus’ words: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”? (Matthew 18:3) (cf. John 5:44; Luke 18:9-13).
  3. How do Proverbs 9:7-9 and Titus 3:9-11 relate?
  4. Why do some Churches and their leaders let pharisees set the agenda for their ministries? To better understand contemporary parallels to the Pharisees, see: Are the Pharisees still among us? 
  5. How should missionaries apply this (in principle) to those who reject the gospel? (see: the recurring theme in these passages: Matthew 10:14-15; Luke 10:10-11; Acts 13:44-51; 18:5-6; 28:17-28
  6. See – Warning – Dangerous People

Steve Cornell

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Call to ministry, Church Leadership, Elders, elders in the Church, Emerging Leaders, Jesus Christ, Leadership, Life of a pastor, Pastors, Qualifications for leadership, Teaching of Jesus and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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