Reading “Lest we should offend.” Matthew 17:27
How truly was our Lord Jesus ”harmless” because He was “undefiled.” That His gospel should have been an offence to the scribes and Pharisees and that His cross was an offence to the world is no marvel. But our Lord never, in any one instance, gave needless offence. His heart was too tender, His disposition too kind, His nature too holy to wound the feelings maliciously and thoughtlessly or offend the “innocent sentiments” of others. He was maligned by His enemies, misunderstood and neglected by His friends, yet on no occasion did He retort, revile, or wound; but, with the harmlessness of the dove and the innocence of the lamb, He opened not His mouth. Let us learn of Him in this holy feature of His character, study it closely, and imitate it faithfully.
A desire to avoid offence does not demand a compromise of our Christian faith or profession. On no occasion did it do so in the life of Jesus. When He might have avoided a snare, or warded off a thrust, or escaped a wound by concession, conciliation, or compromise, He stood firm to His own truth and His Father’s honor, unswerving and unswerved—and yet the ”sword” with which He fenced and foiled His foes was ”bathed in heaven” (Isaiah 34:5). O my soul, let this be your guiding precept, as it was Christ’s, “speaking the truth in love.”
Offences will come since ”the offence of the cross is not ceased.” And yet the Christian law—”giving no offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God—is unrepealed; and the Christian precept—“that you may live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns”—is still binding upon all true followers of the meek and harmless Saviour. “The mind that was in Christ Jesus,” dwelling in us, will lead us to respect the convictions, to be tender towards the feelings, to be charitable towards the infirmities, and to honor the consciences of other Christians differing from us in things not essential to salvation.
“Lest we should offend.” What instructive words these are! How much evil in the world, dissension in the Christian church, and alienation in families would be avoided and averted were the holy precept taught in these words of Jesus more fully observed. Let us, then, pray and watch against every least violation. Let us be careful of our words, our motives, and our actions, lest, wounding and offending one of Christ’s little ones, we offend and wound Christ Himself. Oh, never give needless cause of offence to a weak believer, to a conscientious Christian, to a tried, tempted child of God, to one who, in his own way and sphere, is seeking to serve his Lord and Master. Oh, how seldom we remember, how faintly we recognize, the perfect oneness of Christ with His people! That it is utterly impossible to do an injury to, or confer a favor upon, a true believer in Jesus, and not be brought into personal contact with Jesus Himself: ”He that touches you touches the apple of my eye.” “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.”
Lord, help me more and more clearly to see You in Your saints; and in conferring upon them a kindness, or in inflicting on them an injury, to see Jesus only!
Taken from Consider Jesus: Thoughts for Daily Duty, Service, and Suffering by Octavius Winslow, 1870 (public domain).