Thursday, September 22, 2011

MrsDrPoe: Causing Others to Stumble

Today is Theology Thursday, so as always, I'm inviting you to open up your Bibles as we look at some passages of God's word.

Last week I was in a ladies study where our friend Mr. Holley guided a us through Luke 17.  Since that study, I've been thinking a lot about the first four verses of the chapter:

Then He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!  It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, that that he should offend one of these little ones.  Take heed to yourselves.  If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him.

In this passage, Jesus acknowledges the fact that men are not perfect and that they will occasionally stumble; however, He also notes that if this offense or stumbling was caused by a person, it would've been better that person would be dead than that to cause this offense.  This may seem a bit odd and extreme, but it definitely shows us just how great our responsibility is to those around us.

We should always try to be aware of our brethren and their weaknesses so that we don't cause another to sin because of something we did.  This requires us to really get to know our brothers and sisters in Christ- on a much deeper level that we often do, but it also requires us to be willing to give up our 'rights.'  Paul shows us this in 1 Cor 8 where he declares in verse 13, "Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."

If we continue in the Luke passage however, Jesus commands His disciples to rebuke those who stumble and forgive those who repent...essentially as many times as they come to us in repentance.  If we compare these commands to what Jesus said immediately before them, we can see that by not rebuking a brother and allowing him to continue in sin or by not forgiving a brother who has repented we are causing him to stumble!

We can see both sides of the coin by examining Paul's letters to the Corinthians.  In 1 Cor 5, Paul scolds the Christians there for allowing sin to continue in the church in regard to the man who was with his father's wife.  Many believe that in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul is again scolding the church there for not forgiving this same man after they had rebuked him and he repented (2 Cor 2).  In both cases, the church at Corinth was causing the/a man to stumble instead of caring for his soul as they should have been; as do we when we fail to rebuke and forgive.


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