Chan Gin Kai
Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. So watch yourselves. (Luke 17:1-3a)
Be Careful That You Don’t Fall
The ancient Greek word used here is skandalon, it was the bent-stick that springs a trap, or a stumbling block that people trip over.
Jesus said that there will always be stumbling blocks that cause people to sin, they “are bound to come”. That sounds scary, and it is actually healthy for us to be a little fearful here.
Many of us live in beautiful cities with well-paved roads and litter-free footpaths. There isn’t much to stub our toe or trip us over, yet we’ve stumbled over the most unlikeliest of things. We’ve even tripped and fallen in the safety of our homes. Our security lulls us into complacency.
In the best case scenario, we may bruise our pride or graze our knees, in the worst case scenario, a fall may be fatal. A spiritual fall bears even more severe consequences.
And the reasons we stumble are all too similar.
Sometimes, the most inconspicuous things may cause our fall, and our complacency is why we don’t see them. We may blame the stumbling block, but we know the fault lies in ourselves. We can’t blame others for our sins.
That’s why the Bible warns us, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
It was when David was secure as king, his kingdom stable, and his people safe from their enemies that he got complacent. He fell into adultery with Bathesheba and murdered her husband, Uriah the Hittite.
It is when we think we’re strong, that we are at our weakest. It is when we assume we are safe, that we become careless to dangers. We need to be on our guard.
Be Careful That You Don’t Trip Others
But Jesus had harsher words for those who stumble others, he said it is better for them to drown themselves!
He also called out “false messiahs and false prophets” (Matthew 24:24) and described them as “ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15) and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34). Peter called them “unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct” (2 Peter 2:12). Examine the Bible and we will find many more strong words on those who mislead others.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Jesus used such harsh words on the Pharisees and other peddlers of falsehoods. God cares for His people and He is especially angered by those who stumble them. Won’t we be upset with those who lead our children into sin? Wouldn’t we be furious with those who cause our loved ones to fall?
If the Bible condemns these people, why do we give excuses for evangelists, teachers, pastors, priests (or whatever names they use) who teach falsehoods? I’ve heard some say, “They’re the same as us, since they teach about God too,” but so did the Pharisees. “They teach about Jesus also”, but so did the Gnostics. “And they quoted some Bible verses,” but so did the devil. Of course there are a few similarities. The most convincing lies are those that are wrapped in some slivers of truth.
We have to be careful that we do not fall, but we have to be even more careful that we do not stumble others.
If we don’t watch ourselves, we may stumble people through false counsel (Matthew 16:23), through the careless exercise of our freedom (Romans 14:13), or by causing division and false teachings (Romans 16:17). Do we unknowingly propagate falsehoods because we have not been diligent in digging into the Bible ourselves? Do we misquote the Bible to create excuses for our behaviour? Do we twist the Bible for personal gain?
Let’s not get complacent. Be careful of stumbling blocks… the ones around us, and especially the one in the mirror.
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves actively in the Central Christian Church and describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.