I’ve been chewing on a verse since yesterday that has me pondering what my actions cause. The verse is Matthew 18:7 and I’ve bolded the part that has me thinking:
Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!
The first thing I want to touch on here is the word “woe” because when you go back to the original meaning in essence it’s like a threatening promise. So what is being said is basically “if you do this, expect consequences!” In other words: don’t do this! And in this case “this” is putting yourself in a position where you are tempting others to sin.
The word translated here as “temptation” is skandalon (G4625). Here’s the key portion of the definition:
any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling
Basically we are being warned against being the one to cause someone else to stumble. This is the same word used in Mark 9:42
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
There are moments where we are obvious tempters – like if we are initiating gossip, we are sinning and causing someone(s) else to sin by joining us. But there are moment’s that are less obvious as well. Moments where we are doing something permissible, but it causes someone else to sin (drinking alcohol is an example).
This brings to mind a blog I wrote several years ago on Permissible vs Beneficial. It seems the longer we walk with the Lord, the more time we should be spending engaged in the beneficial rather than the permissible. Especially if there is a possibility that our “permissibles” may cause someone else to stumble, which would mean WE have sinned.
So I suppose the question I’m putting to you today to ponder is the same one I’ve been pondering for the last 24 hrs: what do I do that potentially causes others to stumble?
Lord, I ask that You would show us areas that we may need to change – not because we’re struggling, but because we love our brothers and sisters too much to want to cause them to struggle. Help us to care more for them then about our “right” to be able to do something. I ask for grace to lay things down. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. And to You be all the glory!