I hate snakes, I always have.  I understand that for some reason every reptile in some way serves a purpose, but God why snakes?  In the few encounters I have had with them, the worst was here in Florida, in my swimming pool, the second deadliest snake in the world was swimming in my pool.  I did what any great man of faith and power would have done, I called animal control.  When they told me it was $400, I decided to risk my life and take this thing into my own hands.  I had no plans of being bitten by the second deadliest snake in the world that Saturday afternoon, so I readily prepared myself.  My son was assisting me, and he was just as cautious as I was, but it was a little funny to see two grown men, held hostage by a 24 inch coral snake.

With three weapons in hand, my hedge trimmers, my machete and the device I had in my garage to get cans off the top shelf, we went after this thing.  We had a plan, I would grab it with the 4 foot can grabber, and my son would cut its head off with the hedge trimmer, finishing the job with a machete.  We got it, I held it and he took the head off.  We left it lying on our pool deck for a couple hours cooking in the hot sun just to be sure it was really dead, because you just never know with snakes.

It's not the bite of a snake that concerns me, its the venom they inject.  That venom will rapidly make its way through your blood stream and before you know it, you are in trouble.  

In the same way venom works its way into a persons body, the spirit of "OFFENSE" does as well. The enemy uses offense like a venom to introduce itself into the bloodstream of christians, to ultimately destroy them and others along the way.  It is one of the most prevalent things in the Church today, but its not something new.  Jesus said in Matthew 12:33 a tree is recognized by it's fruit.  If it is a bad tree, it will have bad fruit, and if it is a good tree, it will have good fruit, but how can a bad tree produce bad fruit, it's because of the root system.  The problem is in the soil, bad soil, will get into the roots, the roots will affect the tree and the tree will affect the fruit.  It works the same way as the venom from a snake will infiltrate your whole body, and it will come out your mouth.

The greater issue is this, Jesus went on to say, that we all will give account for every careless word that comes our of our mouths.  We will either be justified by our words, or condemned by them, but we ALL will be held accountable for our words.

Offense has been around for a long time, almost everywhere Jesus went, he offended someone. A pharisee was always judging his actions, the legalists were always pointing their fingers.  That kind of offense was different, it was to draw men to God, it's unintentional offense to point people to the way of eternal salvation.

It's the unhealed, wounded, bitter person that somewhere got bitten by the spirit of offense and never found an antibody to bring healing to their hurting heart.  These putrid progressive wounds that people in the body hold onto will affect not just a part, but all of you and others around you, and you will recognize it because it will eventually start to come out of your mouth.

In James 3:10, the Bible asks "How can from the same mouth come blessing and cursing?"  Can both bitter and sweet water come from the same spout?  Of course not, and God implores us that these things should not be.  

The word offense comes from the word scandal, and it is a trap, or a snare to entangle God's people in and if possible, destroy them and others around them.

Jesus also spoke prophetically about offense in Matthew 24, when He said because of offense, many will fall away from the faith, and betray one another, and even hate one another.  What a sad portrayal of the work of the enemy, and a warning to all of us to be on our guard against offense. 

So the next time you have an opportunity to speak to someone, be sure to never allow what someone may have said or done affect what comes out of your mouth.  Allow the sweet water of the Holy Spirit to flow out of you into others and you will be shocked to see the response.

Allow no offense in your heart, no venom to invade your body, no snake bite to affect you in any way.  You were designed to bear "GOOD FRUIT" and to make a difference, so let this be your goal. 

And by the way, if you ever see a venomous snake like I did, no, not the ones that crawl on the ground on their belly, I'm talking about the ones on two legs... sometimes we pass them in the shopping mall, or see them on our street, and even on the row next to us in a Sunday service at Church, be careful that you don't allow the venom of offense to take you out.  Guard your heart above all things, for from it flow the virtues of life!