“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” (Matthew 18:6-7 NIV)
Jesus spoke these words to those who were listening to Him, while He walked the earth. He is yet speaking to those who are listening and obeying, warning us to watch out for those who would be stumbling blocks in our path, deliberately setting us up for a fall.
There are many things in this life that may cause people to stumble in their walk with Christ–temptations set before us to strengthen us and reveal our true characters. Are we people of integrity and honor? Do we value the wrong things in life? Are we so high-minded that we are only concerned with self? Are we wafflers–taking the side of anyone we listen to for more than five minutes? When the temptations come–and they will–are we able to withstand the urge to give into the temptation?
Sometimes, we get the wrong ideas about what can tempt us by thinking only about the obvious sin–living in opposition to God’s Word–when we are warned that it is the “little foxes that spoil the vine.” It is the little things that we allow to creep into our spirits when we think–they are little–that become stumbling blocks.
Let’s see how much these little things become stumbling blocks in our lives. We see the last piece of _________ left over from dinner and we decide–no big deal, I’ll eat it rather than see it go to waste. And before long, we’re eating that last of everything, justifying doing so within ourselves. But then the time comes when we have to see the doctor because our bodies are not functioning the way they should, and we discover we’re a hundred pounds overweight, our heart is failing, and we’re always out of breath. It was a little thing that snowballed into a big thing.
Some parents allow their children’s girlfriends and boyfriends to spend the night when they could easily go home. It’s not a big thing–they simply stayed up too late watching a movie or doing homework. When the parents went to bed, the kids were knocked out, but soon someone is knocked up and everyone is blown up with anger and resentment. But it was a little thing that blew up to a big thing.
When Christians say–same sex couples have a right to love and marry who they want–it’s a little thing to them because they claim it is an affair of the heart, when really it’s all about lust of the flesh. It was a little thing that has now exploded in a big thing as lawmakers attempt to determine when rights are violated and whose rights have priority over another. It is fight over whether the rights of those who believe and adhere to God’s Word transcend the rights of those who deliberately oppose God’s Word. It is now a matter of good versus evil in every sense of the word, but it was a little thing–ignored and underestimated that has now become a stumbling block for many.
Drugs, alcohol, theft, lying, profanity–might have been little things in the lives of many, but become bigger than life when ignored. Children lying and using profanity is not cute; it’s negligence on the part of the parent and so is stealing and allowing kids to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Addictions of any kind may have started as a little thing, but became bigger when ignored. They became stumbling blocks in the lives of people who did not recognize how to steer clear and find another path.
For those who deliberately put stumbling blocks in the path of those who are trying to live righteous lives, the penalty is severe. I cannot imagine the weight of a millstone (2 feet round and half a foot thick) hanging around my neck, holding me under the water until I succumbed to it. Nor do I want to be responsible for encouraging anyone to live in opposition to God’s Word.
Therefore, to make sure I am not a stumbling block–interfering with God’s plans in a person’s life, I simply promote the Gospel, focusing on Him, trying to steer clear of the drama that some see as a little thing, but if ignored, blows up into theatrical performance, worthy of awards for stupidity and a lack of integrity. There is no honor in creating stumbling blocks for others. When we know Him, we should be represent all that He is in everything we do–peacemakers in all things–and not peacebreakers. Watch out for the stumbling blocks that keep success out of reach!