Jesus has a serious warning for those who lead others into sin. He says:
it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
God has a great love and concern for the vulnerable and so we have a great responsibility for them. The context here suggests that we should consider in view, the child used as an example in v36 but also the man who has been casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Perhaps we should think too of the man who has said to Jesus “I believe, help my unbelief.” The focus is not so much those who are little in physical stature and young in years as those who are young in the faith.
It is important that we keep a watch on our words and actions. Do the things we say and do help others to grow in faith or discouraging them. We cause people to sin when we:
- Add or take away from God’s Word so that we teach them wrongly
- Set a bad example through our own words and actions
- Put peer pressure on others to join us in sin
- Put temptation in front of them
- Act in a harmful way towards them and so stir up bitterness
Jesus says that it would be better for such a person to be permanently removed from the scene.
Jesus also goes on to say that we must be alert to temptation in our own lives. He uses brutal imagery, better to be blinded than to allow temptation to dominate your vision, better to have a hand removed than use it for sin. I guess the modern equivalent would be to get rid of the TV or but blocks and filters on the internet.
We might also consider how this has come in the context of teaching on the way of the cross. It is better to experience some of the cost of “mini-deaths” now as we learn what it means to die to self, to die with Christ than to face the second death of Hell.
- Who is in your spiritual care? Do you encourage them in faith or are you proving a temptation and stumbling block to them?
- What areas of temptation do you need to deal with in your own life?