"Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:32&33; 11:1. (NASB)
Paul says to be imitators of him as he is of Christ. Paul instructed, "give no offense." Jesus Christ set forth this example for us.
"And when they had come to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter, and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma 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 the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" And upon his saying, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Consequently the sons are exempt. "But, lest we give them offense, go to the sea, and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a stater. Take that and give it to them for you and Me." Matthew 17:24-27. (NASB)
This word "offense" that Jesus uses, comes from the Greek word "skandalizo" ("scandalize"). It is derived from another Greek word "skandalon" ("scandal"). Skandalizo means: From Thayer's> "to put a stumblingblock or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall; to be a stumbling-block; in the New Testament always metaphorically; to cause or make to stumble, to offend." From this definition, the word "offense" does not give the idea of a reaction of someone merely disliking something what someone else has done or said.
When a person does or says something that causes another person to trip, to fall or to sin, the person who sins has been offended. The person who has caused another to sin, may or may not be guilty of sinning himself. For example, many people stumble at the teaching of Jesus. The words of Jesus must be taught. A teacher, with the proper attitude, is innocent who in the course of teaching the word of God to someone, causes them to stumble over the teaching. In this case it is not the teacher but the teaching; and the fault does not lie with the teacher or the teaching, but rather the hearer. For example John 6:60-61 says, "Many therefore of His disciples, when they heard this said, 'This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?' But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, 'Does this cause you to stumble?'" NASB. There will always be some who will reject His teachings. Many will stumble over Jesus because they are disobedient, (1 Peter 2:7&8). On the other hand there are many cases where a person is guilty of sinning when they have caused another to sin. The case that we find in Matthew 17:24-27 indicates a situation where some may be caused to stumble and the one who may cause them to stumble is able to prevent them from falling.
The example shows that Jesus was not going to cause any to stumble or sin. From the example in Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus being the Son of God (that is the son of a king), ought to have been exempt from paying taxes. If Jesus had protested to these tax collectors, insisting His lawful liberty or freedom from paying this tax, He would have been in the right. But this could have been cause for the tax collectors to stumble. Whatever it was that Jesus might have said in protest is speculation. The answer of Jesus shows that there are situations, where one who is in the right, would be better off for the sake of the other party, to forego the insistence of one's rights. His answer was, "But, lest we give them offense . . ." Jesus was not going to cause others to sin. The scriptures are silent as to what sin these tax collectors might have engaged in. But if it was simply to reject Jesus, that is sin enough. So Jesus paid the tax. This action of His follows the principle found in 1 Corinthians 10:23-24; "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." (NASB).
There are many things in this life that are lawful, but they don't edify. Instead of building up, they tear down. As Christians we need to be able to see those things which build up and those that tear down. Then, "Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." We are to do those things that will build up and edify one another. We are to refrain from those things that tear down and cause others to sin. Hear what Jesus says about those who cause others to stumble.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!" Matt. 18:1-7. (NASB)
These little ones who Jesus is talking about are those that believe and trust in Him; consequently, the brethren. The word "stumbling block" is from the same Greek word that we dealt with above; "skandalizo."
Clearly the examples and teachings of Jesus Christ instruct us that we must be concerned about our actions and how they will affect others. Some things that we do in this life, in and of themselves, may not be wrong, they might even be lawful; but they might destroy souls, cause blame to come upon us and discredit the work we do in trying to save souls. In this case, better to curb our liberty, rather than to drive it through the hearts of others to their destruction. When we destroy others by leading them into sin, we sin against Christ, 1 Corinthians 8:11-13.
If we, as members of the body of Christ, live our lives in such a way that causes others to sin and will not make amends regarding our actions, it is evident that we have received the grace of God in vain. In so doing, we jeopardize the salvation of our souls. "And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain-- for He says, "At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "the acceptable time," behold, now is "the day of salvation"-- giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited," 2 Corinthians 6:1-3. (NASB)
The examples that we show to each other and the world ought to be such that would cause none to be led into sin and that none could reproach us. Be a Christian, live like Christ, give no offense to anyone.
(Bolding for emphasis in quoted passages are mine, ACW)