1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! 8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. 9 “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:1-10
Christian liberty is often used as a cover for careless living. You might see church involvement in and hear spiritual platitudes from these people, but they are not inclined to sacrifice behavior that might be construed by the newly saved, or worse, the almost saved, as any different from from the world. As a result, the church’s corporate influence on society is rendered impotent, the Christian’s credibility from which to disciple others is negated, the neophyte never learns true righteousness and stumbles in the faith, and the curious stay curious, lose interest in the faith altogether, or end up concluding we really are a bunch of hypocrites.
The Bible is clear on this problem–or might I say Jesus is clear on this issue. The bar is set very high for those who would purport to live a “Christian life.” Jesus commends the humble innocent child of the faith, but this lifestyle may be critically viewed by the “stronger more mature” believer as naive or subject to fleeting “youthful enthusiasm.” Perhaps this “child in the faith” will even be despised for his or her simple obedience to Jesus and scriptural commands.
Participation in “doubtful things”, i.e. things not particularly noted as sins in the Bible, can easily become to baby Christians the “stumbling blocks” Jesus describes. Worse, they can dishearten the more mature faithful follower, driving wedges in relationships, causing the more principled to be ridiculed within the family of God. In other words, he or she not only suffers for a stand in the world, but is criticized for righteous careful living by other Christians! In doing this we “despise” (to think little of) our brother or sister. Dare I might add to “doubtful things” a Christian expousing libetarian “enlightened” views of societal behavior and morays, when the Bible clearly and explicitly condemns the activities with “chapter and verse?” Jesus says “Woe” to the one through whom this occurs. Does not the world alone present enough obstacles to faith? Do we not worry about the millstone? He goes on to say it is better to “cut off” an appendage or “pluck out” an eye to avoid creating a stumbling block for others. From what I read, the consequences to the perpetrator are quite serious.
If you call yourself a mature Christian and think to yourself that a fellow believer “just needs to get over it” with regard to a “doubtful” activity or behavior, you’d better think twice. Happy is the man or woman who fears the millstone.
[See also Romans 14:21, 1 Corinthians 8:13, 1 Timothyt 4:16]