Sometimes I’m amused about the titles God gives me to write about.  So we’re into monkeys now, are we?  Well, for today we are.  The monkey is called “offense”.   Let’s picture someone walking into the store with a monkey on their back. It would get some stares, wouldn’t it?  Well, back in my day it would have. I realize these days nothing raises an eyebrow in public, but humor me, ok?  

Someone might say, “Hi John, how are you and the monkey doing today?”  and John might say, “What monkey?  What are you talking about ?, I don’t have a monkey.”  They would say, “Sure you do, right there on your back, plain as day, a big, hairy one.  And ugly.  Strong family resemblance, I’d say, too.”

            Well, why is it so easy for someone else to see a monkey on your back when you can’t seem to see it?  Offense is a lot like that.  It isn’t hard to recognize someone who is offended.  But you don’t often recognize it when you have it.  It’s a lot like bad breath, everyone knows you have it but you.  The air around them is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife.  You might say “How are you?” and out they spew, “FINE! complete with icicles hanging off the words.  I can’t draw it here, but in cartoons, they write it “!!#@!#$%^&!!” with a dark cloud and lightning bolts. You get the idea.  You have probably already talked to someone like that today.  They’re not hard to find.  Actually, they will find you.

            No matter how much you care for them, you still have to deal with the monkey, and he isn’t very nice.  Offended people are never happy. And they want to make sure you aren’t either.  Misery loves company, they say.  And monkeys breed monkeys. The one offended is always ready to run to someone and complain.  Offense thrives on strife.  It’s monkey food, in this case.  Someone will start talking about how they have been offended by someone, and before long, the one listening will join in with their own sad tail, I mean tale. Pretty soon, you have two offended people and here come the monkeys looking for backs to jump on.

            You know I’m telling you the truth!  Get a few people together talking, and before long, offense starts rearing its ugly head.  You can even be in church, and within five minutes, someone will be complaining they don’t like the way something was done, or something that was said about so-and-so.  In a heartbeat, offense is being stirred up in someone’s heart against someone else.  I don’t think people realize the power of offense.  Wars are started by offense.  Churches are split by offense.  Marriages are destroyed by offense.  Friendships are ruined by offense.  Proverbs 16:28-29 says, “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.  A violent man enticeth his neighbor, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.”

                     There’s a word for the wise that says, “The buck stops here”, and I’m not talking about money.  We need to realize who the source of offense is, and who our enemy really is.  It isn’t Brother or Sister So-and So, even if they are a so-and-so.  Our enemy is Satan himself.  His whole purpose is to divide us one from another, and from God.

            You and me and the monkey make three?  Nope, not today.  If you and the monkey want to hang out together, that’s fine, but leave me out of it.  I want no part of offense.  And if you’re smart, you’ll lose the monkey and get free!