This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
There is a difference between “offense” and “stumbling.” And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, “A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country…” (Matthew 13:57). But Jesus knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at this, said unto them, “Does this cause you to stumble?” (John 6:61; see also Matthew 5:29; 11:6; 13:41; 16:23; 17:27; 18:6-7). Offense means going contrary to someone’s private opinion, and it is sometimes our moral duty to give offense.
…Stumbling is different from offense. For example, someone who does not know God as well as you do, loves you and continually does what you do because he loves you, and as you watch him you begin to discern that he is degenerating spiritually, and to your amazement you find he is doing what you are doing. No offense is being given, but he is stumbling, distinctly stumbling.
From Biblical Psychology
In 1 Corinthians 8 and 9 Paul talks about not causing someone else to stumble because of what we do. It’s a fine line sometimes between offense and stumbling, but it’s a distinct line that the Holy Spirit can help us discern.
Jesus often offended people because their mindset was so rigid, and He didn’t act in a way that fit their rigid religious stereotypes. But Jesus was very cautious about making sure He never caused someone to stumble. As Matthew points out, Jesus fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah: He will not quarrel or cry out…. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out… (Matthew 12:19-20; Isaiah 42:1-4).
My prayer: Lord Jesus, please don’t let others stumble because of me! Let me have the discernment of the Holy Spirit to know when to offend, but to never cross the line to cause others to stumble. May I have Your same gentle spirit to not quarrel, and to treat the “bruised reeds” with utmost care.