Luke 17:1 in the Amplified Bible says: “Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Stumbling blocks (temptations and traps to lure one to sin) are sure to come, but woe (judgement is coming) to him through whom they come!’”
Now surely, if you are a born again child of God, you will not set up traps to lure people into sin! So this verse does not apply to you, right? Especially the next verse where Jesus warns that it will be better for such a person to be hurled into the sea with a millstone around his neck! (Luke 17:2) Definitely not talking about you, right? That’s what I thought for a long time. Until recently. I was reading through the Book of Luke and intended to just quickly browse over this part. But, that’s where the Holy Spirit stopped me right in my tracks.
I was reminded of what the apostle Paul told the believers in Rome: “Then let us not criticize one another anymore, but rather determine this – not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in another believer’s way.” (Rom. 14:13 AMP)
I suddenly realized just how easy it is for a child of God to put an obstacle or a stumbling block or a source of temptation in people’s way! I had some repenting to do.
One thing you can be sure of, is that you are being watched very closely by unbelievers. They listen to the way you speak and watch the way you act. They check what you read, watch and listen to. Do you join in the gossip, lose your temper and swear occasionally? They notice that. Do you show them the love of God? Do you stand for Jesus? Are you joyful and thankful? Does your life bear the fruit of the Spirit? They notice that as well. You may not know this, but they are weighing up the options between choosing Christ, or not, according to your life.
The number one excuse for Christians to leave church, backslide or even deny their faith, is because of hypocrites. This problem is as old as the church itself. People have been hurt by the church, disappointed or even in some cases been asked to leave because they did not “fit in”. That is why Paul also wrote: “Let each one of us (make it a practice to) please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually.” (Rom. 15:2 AMP) We are to build each other up, not break each other down with hurtful words and attitudes. Jesus commanded us to love and serve one another. We should also be an example and encourage each other to live righteously.
How does the parent that pray and read Bible stories at bedtime compare to the one your children observed and experienced during the day? Do you know that they will not remember everything you said but only how it made them feel? Do you know that your actions speak louder than your words? Do you know that you can be guilty of causing a little one to stumble in sin and lose faith without even realizing it? (Luke 17:2)
Whoa! I’m just human! I can’t be held accountable for unintentionally causing people around me to stumble! Yes, I hear you. Jesus knows this. That is why He instructed us to help one another: “Pay attention and always be on guard (looking out for one another)! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3 AMP) So, the next time you are warned by fellow believers, don’t feel insulted. They are actually doing you a favor. Repent and chance so that you may be forgiven.
By the grace of God we also have a helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide us and remind us how to live righteously. (John 14:26) Open your ears to His voice and allow Him to guide you every day.
We have a responsibility. We are called to be salt and light.
It’s not an easy job. I know. But, if you love people with the love of Christ and want to see every soul saved, it’s worth giving it your best shot.