24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” English Standard Version Mt 17:24–27.
There is a really striking balance in Jesus here. When it came to truth, especially the truth of the Gospel or about God, Jesus didn’t hesitate to offend anyone or everyone. He was no shrinking violet.
But when it was not such a matter, here, in what is nothing more than a social custom, Jesus is concerned not to give any needless offense.
This is greatly instructive to us. For we are ever needing to be clear which hills are those to die upon, and which are not so grave.
It also gives us occasion to be reminded that in the whole of the New Testament, neither Christ nor His Disciples are ever recorded as having been offended or taking offense themselves. And they were most certainly ill-treated. The tendency to take offense at everything it seems is found only in their opposers.
I wonder at how easily, I, we, in this generation make so much of offenses. Perceived or real ones. We imagine ourselves wounded at almost every turn. Something conspicuously absent both in our Lord and those who suffered with Him. Perhaps the ease of our circumstances, the “rights” upon which our society prides itself, the general acceptance we have as Christians – which opens us to precious little true persecution – has made us imagine the world (and people in general) owe us some level of courtesy and regard. Our skins grow exceedingly thin. Every bump is considered battery. Every slight, real sin. But this is not the Biblical model. Like Jesus, we are to be more concerned with not giving unnecessary offense to others, than whether or not they may offend us.
We, are about to inherit eternity. And will we wrangle with one another over momentary sensitivities?
Father forgive me for this being all too often true in my own life.