I was walking along an old city street when I nearly tumbled head over heels after my toe struck the edge of the sidewalk that had been upturned by the roots of a nearby tree. The dangerous obstruction reminded me of the term used in the Bible that causes people to fall off the path and away from faith in God – stumbling blocks.
As believers, we should always be on alert to remove stumbling blocks from the path of those who are not strong in their faith, and to not be a stumbling block ourselves. We must be careful about heaping up rules that believers must follow to avoid temptation, and also avoid the other extreme of encouraging them to explore all of their liberties found in Christ, to the point of leading them into temptation.
Instead, we must let the Holy Spirit do His work, and not get in the way.
Remove Stumbling Blocks
Jesus said, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” Mark 9:42
We must continually and fearfully evaluate the way we live and act to make sure we do not cause people to turn their eyes from Jesus’ perfection and onto our imperfection.
Unfaithful Leaders Become Stumbling Blocks
"You have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi," Says the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 2:8
Leaders of God’s Church, have a huge responsibility to teach God’s truth and not personal opinion. Leaders also must lead blameless lives so they do not send their flock off a cliff.
Hypocrites in the Church are Stumbling Blocks
"… you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” – Matthew 23:28
There are too many “phony Christians” who are turning people away from God without realizing it. Telling your children to “do what I say and not what I do” is hypocrisy. Praising the Lord and then cursing with the same tongue is hypocrisy. Greeting a fellow believer with a warm smile one moment and then telling the next person you meet some gossip about them is hypocrisy. STOP IT!
Watch Against Becoming a Stumbling Block
“…let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
“…do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
“It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.” - Romans 14:13, 16-17, 21
Please realize, as you work in the church, there are many people who come from many backgrounds, who have many struggles and personal convictions. Just because you feel it is OK to drink alcohol, don’t encourage others to do so, even in jest. If you feel that eating meat is like eating poison, don’t argue with a believer who needs it. Likewise, if you are a meat lover, don’t starve your vegetarian guests. If you smoke, don’t smoke in public, so you don’t entice or offend others.
Love Prevents Being a Stumbling Block
“He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” – 1 John 2:10
In ALL things, use a huge measure of God’s Grace, rather than beating your brother down with the Law. Each of us can find faults and can be found to be at fault, each and every moment of the day. The more we get to know each other, the more we know that we are all imperfect and in need of a perfect savior.
Let Jesus Be Offensive, Not You
The true stone of stumbling is Jesus. We are simply called to tell people about Him. For some He is a stumbling block, to others, He is foolishness. To believers, Jesus is the Christ – the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). Some will reject Him. Others will accept Him. Our job is to clear the path for Him, and step aside.
Jesus is the stone that we must allow ourselves to come crashing down upon - the Rock that must knock us to our knees. Isaiah, Peter and the Psalmist called Him a “precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16, 1 Peter 2:6, Psalm 118:22), and a “stone of stumbling” and a “rock of offense” (Isaiah 8:14, 1 Peter 2:8).