Avoid stumbling your brother or sister

Phil Fischer

 

“A blind man in a great city was found sitting at a street corner with a lantern beside him. Someone went up to him and asked him why he had the lantern, since he was blind and the light of it was the same to him as the darkness. The blind man simply replied, ‘So that no one may stumble over me.’”

We who know Christ, of course, are not blind. But like that man, we too must be providing light so that those who are lost can find their way to heaven. Without the light of Christ shining through us, His followers, they will stumble in their search for peace and satisfaction.

Daily Jems, by D.L. Moody

What is stumbling?

Let’s see what the dictionary says:

 

Stumble

a. To miss one’s step in walking or running; trip and almost fall.

b. To proceed unsteadily or falteringly; flounder. See Synonyms at blunder.

c. To act or speak falteringly or clumsily.

2. To make a mistake; blunder.

3. To fall into evil ways; err.

 

Let’s see what the Old Testament had to say:

The Hebrew word of the Old Testament, pronounced mick-shole, meaning an obstacle or enticement, and the Greek word of the New Testament, pronounced scan-dal-on (from which is derived the English word scandal), meaning a snare, or something that offends, are often translated in English-language Bibles as stumbling block. Although it has obvious literal applications, it is more often used as a metaphor for a means of physical or spiritual ruin.

In the Old Testament, although once used in a sense of not taking advantage of the disabled, stumbling blocks were something that people put between themselves and God, or that God put before the disobedient.

“You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am The Lord.” (Leviticus 19:14 RSV)

“Again, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 3:20 RSV)

“They cast their silver into the streets, and their gold is like an unclean thing; their silver and gold are not able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of The Lord; they cannot satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it. For it was the stumbling block of their iniquity. Their beautiful ornament they used for vainglory, and they made their abominable images and their detestable things of it; therefore I will make it an unclean thing to them.” (Ezekiel 7:19-20 RSV)

Let’s see what the New Testament has to say:

In the New Testament, stumbling blocks were used in a spiritual sense:

“Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.”

Romans 14:13

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:23

And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; it is better (more profitable and wholesome) for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into everlasting fire.

Matthew 18:7-9

WHAT IS STUMBLING?

A stumbling block is something which causes us to err or to stray from the truth. Casting a stumbling block in one’s way is the opposite of being our brother’s keeper.

Satan has many devices to cause confusion and heartache for God’s people. One of the tools he uses so successfully is to cause stumbling blocks to be placed in our paths. He is a MASTER at throwing blocks in our paths. I am not kidding.

The seriousness of casting a stumbling block in one’s way was made very clear by Jesus when He said “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Mt. 23:13). The very ones who should have been helpful were guilty of making it more difficult for God’s people to do what was right.

The problem of causing others to err has been evident since long before Christ.

Isaiah wrote “. . .Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people” (Is. 57:14). Malachi also wrote of the problem when he chastised the messengers of the Lord who ” . . . . are de parted out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 2:7).

Ezekiel wrote at length about the shepherds who were more concerned about their selfish interests than they were about feeding the flocks. In Ez. Chap. 34 he wrote of those who neither cared for the diseased nor sought those who were scattered. The sheep wandered upon the face of the earth and no one searched for them. The stumbling block was acts of selfishness and neglect.

From this example and other scriptures, we can understand that there are many ways we can cast a stumbling block in the way of God’s people. Perhaps the most serious stumbling block of all was committed when the Savior was put to death. This was done to discourage others From following Him. The Jewish leaders at that time were willing to go to any extreme to silence the message of salvation and to prevent anyone from following Jesus.

Persecution against Christians has been tool that Satan has used ever since Christ arose from the dead. “…And at that time there was great persecution against the church. . .” (Acts 8:1). Throughout history and continuing to our time, persecution has made it difficult for those who want to worship God.

The preceding examples have been quite blatant and easy to recognize. We must also understand that there are more subtle, but very effective, stumbling blocks that cause men to fail. We must be careful that we do not allow ourselves to be guilty of them.

“Christian liberty” has often been used as justification to engage in activities that, at best, are borderline sin. It is true that Christ came to earth to liberate us from Satan. It is also true that we “. . . shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption unto the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Ro. 8:21) and “. . . where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II. Cor. 3:17).

The Apostle Paul wrote much about liberty. In Romans 14 he encourages us to have forbearance with a weak brother who may not have faith to do as we do. However, he also wrote of the need to “…take heed lest by any means this liberty of your’s become a stumbling block to them that are weak” (I Cor. 8:9) and to “…use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Ga. 5:13). Peter wrote that we must not use “…your liberty as a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (I Pe. 2:16).

How, then, can we be sure we do not put a stumbling block in our brother’s way? God is faithful. In His Word He pro vides instruction that helps us in this matter. “He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (I Jn. 2:10).

Jesus said “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn. 15:12). If we love our brother as Christ loved us, there will be no sacrifice which is too great. If Christ was willing to die for us, we ought to be willing to go to great lengths to see that we do not cause another to fall.

Even things we make excuses for are stumbles.

Drinking for example. It is NOT a sin to drink, but maybe someone else has a problem with drinking. We all know that excessive drinking (getting drunk) leads to sin. Felipe is my counterpart and he comes out and falls into sin!

Is it okay for a Christian to drink alcohol? The Bible says, in Ephesians 5:18 “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.” (NLT)

If you are in a leadership positing, or you know someone has an issue with drinking, do you really want to drink with them? That tells them that it is ok to drink, a leader does it. How would you feel it you saw your Pastor drunk or drinking socially at a bar or at  someone’s home? If I saw my pastor stumble drunk it would really stumble me.

smoking. The Bible does not specifically state that smoking is a sin, but it does say in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

Paul helps us understand that we should be willing not only to avoid sin to help our brother, but that we should be willing to go much further. If there is something that we see as harmless that might offend one with a weak con science “…for whom Christ died” (I Cor. 8:11) we really must be willing to do what we can to be helpful to others.

The bible says that eating meat may even stumble some. 1 Corinthians 8:13

13Therefore, if [my eating a] food is a cause of my brother’s falling or of hindering [his spiritual advancement], I will not eat [such] flesh forever, lest I cause my brother to be tripped up and fall and to be offended.

Clearly, Paul saw no harm in eating meat, even if it was sacrificed to idols because he knew “. . .an idol was nothing in the world, and there is none other God but one” (I Cor. 8:4). Even though he knew idols were nothing and eating meat was harmless “…if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (I Cor. 8:13).
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13