7 Reasons to Avoid Stumbling Others
Posted at Reformation Scotland:
A stumbling block in Scripture is not simply an obstacle. It is anyone or anything by which someone is drawn into sin or error. Or it may simply hinder them from being edified. Scripture tells that it can happen even through things that aren’t in themselves sinful. The implications of this are virtually all-encompassing. There are few things we must take more seriously than this in the Christian life.
The word which means stumbling block is often translated as “offence”. This is not the same as someone being offended in the sense of being displeased. Rather it is something that causes them to offend against God’s Word. Scripture deals with this matter in the most serious way possible. In his comprehensive treatment of the subject, James Durham says the following about stumbling others:
- there is no sin that has more woes pronounced against it. The Lord himself denounces and doubles a woe against making others offend (Mathew 18:7), and the Apostle confirms it (Romans 14:20);
- there is no duty more commanded. Durham notes that whole chapters are devoted to avoiding stumbling others (e.g. Romans 14, Acts 15, 1 Corinthians 8, Matthew 18);
- there are no worse consequences than those connected with it. Durham notes that it brings: woe to the world; destruction to many souls; reproach upon the profession of Christianity; cools love among brethren, begets and fosters contention and strife; mars the progress of the gospel; and, in a word, makes iniquity to abound, and often ushers in error into the church.
- there is nothing more damaging to the fellowship of believers. Fellowship suffers if we are not sensitive to what edifies and hinders edification in others. Spiritual admonition and conversation and prayer together will lack the right spirit and blessing without such sensitivity.
- it hardens us and makes us more inclined to sin. It hardens us by making the conscience less sensitive to conviction. The more we are in the habit of disregarding others in general the less we are restrained from doing that which is actually sinful.
- it damages the success of the gospel. Carelessness in this brings reproach on profession of the gospel. Sensitivity in this greatly adorns the gospel, however.