Take a minute to read these two passages from Matthew. On one occasion, in Matthew 15, the disciples were concerned that Jesus had offended the Pharisees (Jewish leadership). Jesus clearly was not worried that He had hurt their feelings, because His words were intended to rebuke them and make an example of them to the others in the crowd.
On another occasion, though, Jesus was concerned about offending certain people. Some had come to collect the temple tax. Jesus taught Peter that since He was the Lord of the temple and its owner, He wasn’t bound to pay the temple tax. However, Jesus did not want to create a situation here where someone would be offended, so He had Peter do some miraculous fishing in order to pay the tax.
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
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?” 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?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 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.”
There were times when Jesus made a stand for God and it naturally offended people, especially the hypocritical Jewish leadership. But there were other times when Jesus went beyond what was expected in order to keep from offending someone. This is living out the concept of going the extra mile. Jesus didn’t have to pay this tax, He was in no way obligated to do it, and He could have stood His ground and proved how right He was. But He didn’t, He showed humility and love by caring for how others would respond.
It’s something to think about.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 10:23-24)