10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being...
31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
There is a strong theme in the writings of Paul to be considerate of others to the point of not doing things we know are OK to do if it will confuse or offend others. Paul didn't make this up. It is a principle of love. Jesus was like that. He was considerate of others even to the point that He wouldn't even share truth that His followers were not yet able to handle. Love is other centered. Love is compassionate and considerate.
Now having said all that there is another side of this "coin". In the fall of 1965 the Byrds released an album that made a portion of Scripture popular. They sang "For everything turn, turn, turn. There is a season turn, turn, turn, and a time for every purpose under heaven." The lyrics (except for all the turns) came from Ecclesiastes chapter three. The simple message of the chapter is that there is a time for everything. That means if there is a time to not offend and be considerate there must also be a time to be offensive. Sound crazy?
The only wise and safe thing to do to test the theory is follow Jesus through His life here on earth and see if He chose at times to purposely offend. Turns out He did. My favourite example is Mark 3. As He did every Sabbath day Jesus went to the synagogue (church) to worship His Father with other believers. When He arrived there was a man there who had a hand that was completely useless. He was what we would call today partially physically disabled.
His very presence was creating tension. Why? Because the Jews believed at that time that any sickness or problem was a judgement from God for wrong doing. That's why the disciples asked Jesus in John 9 if it was his own fault or the fault of his parents that a man they were passing by was born blind. Any issue was considered Divine punishment.
The Jews also believed that such cursed people were unclean and to be avoided. The very fact he was in their synagogue was a big problem. Now it must be understood that Jesus had options. He could have asked the man to please leave so as not to offend. He even could have taken him outside and explained to him that he was not cursed, that he had done nothing wrong, but in order to not offend the false beliefs of those inside it was best if he not come back in. Jesus even could have quietly taken him outside and healed him and sent him on his way.
He had so many options that would have alleviated the tension and not brought any offense. He chose none of those options. Here is what He did:
"And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him."
I think it's safe to say Jesus very deliberately offended them. Why? We'll explore that tomorrow...