The Following thought for the day was written by Brother Richard Morgan and provides insight and encouragement for those seeking to serve the God of Israel.
It is one thing to commit sin; it’s another thing entirely to cause others to sin. Jesus gives a very sobering warning in Luke 17 when he says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (v1-2).
The phrase “temptations to sin” is translated from one word, skandalon, and it means a stumbling block. As we can see from the words above, Jesus takes causing others to sin very seriously. It’s just as bad as sinning yourself, or being a “law-breaker” as Jesus said elsewhere – “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:41-42). The phrase “causes of sin” is the same word, skandalon.
What is that constitutes causing someone else to sin, or putting a stumbling block in their way? A clue is found in what Paul writes to the Romans – “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” (Rom. 14:13). The context here is about respecting the consciences of our brothers and sisters. Even if we don’t have difficulty with something, if we ignore that others do, we imperil them towards sin.
The Pharisaical religion of Jesus’ day also caused others to stumble. When he confronted the religion of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.” (Matt. 23:13). The Pharisees were blind leaders of the blind, and doubly condemned for their own failure and causing others to fall with them into the ditch.
The spirit of Jesus’ words in Luke 17, and what he said to the Pharisees, seems to imply we need to be careful with our ecclesial environment. We have to be aware both with what others are struggling with and the rules they feel they need to follow with the burdens that places on others with a rigid religion. In both cases, we can put stumbling blocks in their way. Jesus balances out his words by saying, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). We need to take a firm stance on sin but be equally ready to forgive and move on.
What we need to do is be aware of our brothers and sisters. Conscious of their struggles and aware of their weaknesses and not just concentrate on our own salvation. We can’t neglect the different needs of others and just figure because it’s different from what we need, we can run roughshod over them. When we ignore the needs of others in this way, we either do things that cause them to stumble into sin, or we fail to rebuke them when they are going in the wrong direction, and they stumble then too.
Our commitment needs to be to each other. We might think we’re heading in the right direction, avoiding the pitfalls of sin. But if in doing that, we don’t care about those around us, causing the little ones in Christ to fall into sin, then we are guilty as well. God has put us in ecclesias, and we call each other brother and sister because we are meant to be looking out for each other as a family does. Like in all families, we all have our quirks and weaknesses that our family has to work with and still love us anyway. We need to give that same care and concern to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Being there for them in times of failure, forgiving, and loving them anyway. Not, in essence, putting a millstone around their neck and throwing them away.
Simi Hills, CA
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