He said to his disciples, “Offenses will certainly 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 thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble _ Luke 17:1-2 (CSB)
Previously, we talked about the inevitability of offense, why you should expect it and how to deal with it. Please check it out first, click here.
But I don’t know if you noticed, we only talk about the first part of the verse above in that blog post. What about the other part?
Yeah, the part that says, “but woe unto him, through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”
Hmmn, what about this part?
Oh, let me see, we probably attributed that to someone else right?
But the reality is, sometimes, you and I are the ones causing the offense, sometimes it is through you and me that the offense is coming and though it sounds harsh and we probably rebuke it but the Word says woe unto us if the offense or sin is coming through us. And we probably just want to read that and skip through it because it doesn’t sound good and encouraging. But we can’t afford to treat the Bible like a menu where we pick and choose what we want to pay attention to and don’t want to pay attention to.
This is a very serious matter to Jesus. He said, if we cause people to sin, it will be better for a millstone to be hung around our neck and then thrown into the sea (which means you ain’t coming back up) than you to cause these little ones (the weak believers) to sin. That is how serious this is. It is so serious, it is recorded in three of the four gospels (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9: 42 & Luke 17:1)
So, what do we do when we are:
- the persecutors?
- the gossipers?
- the seducer?
- the liar?
- the thief?
- the one who gives wrong counsels?
- the one who betrays?
- the Christians that mislead others by our lifestyles?
- stumbling blocks to others faith? etc.
What do we do? How do we NOT be the cause of offense? How do we not become stumbling blocks?
The solution to this is LOVE. I know it sounds cliche and probably not what you were expecting but there is a reason why love is the greatest commandment and will never fade away.
This is because love (agape) does no wrong or evil (1 Corinthians 13: 5-6).
If we love others, we won’t persecute other, we won’t gossip about others, we won’t seduce /tempt others, we won’t steal from others, we won’t give wrong counsels, we won’t mislead others, we won’t become stumbling blocks, etc.
But the moment we take love out, we become Christians who offend others and intentional/unintentionally become stumbling blocks to others and we are not growing in love to be like our Father, God.
God is love and that he why he cannot tempt us (James 1:13). So, when we allow the love of God to fill our hearts and overflow, we will also be careful not to tempt others.
This is why love is the greatest commandment. Love God and love your neighbor as your self. When we learn to see others as ourselves and treat them as we treat ourselves, we will be careful to offend others. Again this depends on the level at which we love ourselves because we can’t give what we don’t have.
Let me share a quick story with you. A few months ago, I did the big chop and cut my hair. So, I innocently decided to start coloring my hair in different colors and just have fun with it. I never thought about how others might see it. But as an ambassador of Christ, I had forgotten that I have people watching me. So, it turned out that my hair coloring had offended some people and when I learned about it, I was mad and called these people hypocrites and religious bigots. But God revealed to me through a similar situation in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 (please read this in your time) that I had allowed my knowledge to cloud my love for others.
Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 13: 2 that if we have all knowledge and possess no love, we are nothing and bankrupt. I had the knowledge that it was okay to color my hair even as a Christain but I didn’t consider how someone who is a weak or new believer would see that. Someone actually asked if it was also okay for them to wear indecent clothing because I color my hair. I was shocked at how these two things were seen as been similar. But you’ll be surprised at how your saved and sexy will be seen by a weak believer as permission to be saved and have sex with anyone.
We are free. This is true. However, the Bible warns us to take care that our freedom does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak (1 Corinthians 8:9)
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister – Romans 14: 13.
It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall – Romans 14:21
Knowlege without love is pure foolishness, and saying the truth without love is empty noise
I had already bought a red color for my hair but then I read Romans 14 & 1 Corinthians 8 and I was so convicted. I had allowed knowledge to puff me up and I was saying things like, “I don’t care what anyone says. I know I am not committing any sin. Coloring my hair is not a sin.” Yes, coloring my hair was not a sin but my lack of love to consider how this was causing an offense and being a stumbling block to a brother or sister was a sin. I exchanged the red color for a black one the next day and kept my hair black since then.
Like Paul said, if coloring my hair will cause my brother or sister to sin, then I don’t want to do it. That is such a small sacrifice to pay than lead someone who Jesus died for away from Christ and down the path of death because I want to keep my right and freedom. I love my fellow brothers and sisters and I won’t want to be a stumbling block to them because I wouldn’t want you to be one for me either.
Please realize that this is not the same as letting people tell you what to do, but letting God’s word and the Holy Spirit tell you what to do.
Now, I must say I am not trying to brag that I’ve got this NOT causing offense or being a stumbling block thing figured out. The example of coloring my hair is just a particular area, I have still got others things and areas to change and stop such as gossip, lying, etc.
But when we know better, we should do better. Because it is actually as sin to know the right thing and not do it (James 4:17). We know better not to gossip, so we should do better and stop. We know better not to mislead others, so we should do better, etc. We should be growing daily. But if we are still the same, offending people, being the source of offense and devil is still able to tempt someone through us, then we are not growing and doing better. We are just ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. We never actually practice the truth despite being in church every Sunday. We are like the blind leading the blind and both will end up in the ditch. Let’s keep growing in Christ and bear fruit that remains.
So, one of my prayers daily is, “God remove everything in me that is not of you and fill me with you. Increase your love and love (agape) for others in my heart. Help me not to be an offense to others or mislead others.” I hope this will become your prayer too.
As Christians, we should never get to the point of not caring how our lives affect others. Never say things like, “I don’t care if they sin because I dress like this, it’s my body. It’s my life. I can live it the way I want.” No, Remember, your life is not yours and we belong to God. Also, we are his ambassadors and witness on earth, people are watching us, so we need to represent Jesus very well. We might be the only living Bible someone sees. So we should always be mindful of what we say, do, think (which might lead to an action), wear, etc. Live intentionally with others in mind. Don’t be selfish.
God loves others just as he loves you and I and he will not appreciate it if we lead others to sin. Remember he is a shepherd capable of leaving the ninety-nine to go after one lost sheep. So, it really matters to God how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Remember, God is more concerned about your obedience than your comfort. And one command we need to obey is to love others as ourselves even if it means sacrificing our comfort. The redemptive work of God through Christ on the cross is for all. You and I should never be the reason why someone doesn’t get to experience it or stumble out of it.
Let’s be stepping stones, not stumbling blocks. And we can do this by loving others more and more.
For woe to us if we cause others to stumble. Woe to us if we don’t preach the gospel with our lives. We’ve been entrusted with this good news we must share it without obstructing it with our lack of love and uncaring behavior.
May God continue to prune us, remove all source of offense in us and fill us with his love till it overflows and may we extend and be this love to others daily in Jesus name. Amen.