We, as disciples of Jesus are called to be stepping stones for our brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, we can become stumbling blocks instead. The word stumbling in the New Testament is the word “skandalon”, from where we got the word scandal. The translation is a stumbling or stumbling block. It means: an occasion of sinning, means of inducing to sin. In other words, everything that we do or say that causes us or someone to fall, to break the law, to move away from the path of justice and righteousness. Sometimes our words and attitudes cause people to move away from Jesus instead of moving close to Him. I will share seven of those stumbling blocks that sometimes we will find in our journey or we will put in somebody’s else journey.
1 – Wrong teaching
Every time that we say, preach, or teach something that is not conformed to the Word of God and His will, we are putting a stumbling block in front of our brothers and sisters. This is what God said through the prophet Malachi about the priests of his time: “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction — because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi,” says the LORD Almighty. Malaqui 2:7-8.” Here the main responsibility is on the shoulders of the spiritual leaders, in this case the priests. All of us who have any teaching or leadership position should be very careful with what we say and do.
2 – Trying to stop God’s plan
God has a plan for our lives. This plan is revealed in the pages of the Scriptures. The problem is that sometimes we do not agree with that plan and we try to stop it or to change it. This is what Peter tried to do with Jesus. He could not agree with the Lord about the plans of God for Him. Jesus called him a stumbling block. Here is the text: “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:22-23.” We can do that in the lives of brothers and sisters, and sometimes in the life of the church.
3 – Walking in the dark
Another way of causing people to stumble is just turning the lights off. Darkness is a powerful tool to make people stumble. This is what Jesus said: “Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.” John 11:9-10.” Jesus said that we are the light of the world. If we do not shine our light, people around us will stumble and fall. Our life should shine more and more, so people around us would be able to see the way.
4 – Passing Judgment on one another
“You are wrong, I am right!” “A real Christian doesn’t do that, doesn’t go there, doesn’t eat this, etc.” This is the attitude that we find in many Christians inside our churches. We take upon ourselves the responsibility to judge who is right and who is wrong, who is in and who is out. And because of that many brothers and sisters give up, and fall. Here it is what the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. Romans14:13.” Paul here is talking about food dedicated to idols. People were judging each other because of that, putting a stumbling block in front of each other.
5 – Wrong exercising of our freedom
The next stumbling block comes when people believe that they are free, and because of that they can do anything that they want, no matter what other brothers and sisters think. Paul says that the mature can do everything, but because of their sisters and brothers he or she should be careful how they handle their freedom. Here is the text: “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 1Corinthians 8:9.” If you read the context you will find that Paul is telling the mature to be considerate of the weak one.
6 – Disregard for the others
The biggest challenge in our Christian life today is that we want to live it according to our own interpretations, and if someone does not agree with us we do not care. We do not see and treat each other as members of the same family. Paul told the Corinthians that we should do everything that we can to help the others: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 1Corinthians 10:31-33.” We should not disregard anyone because every time that we do so, we will cause someone to stumble.
7 – Not pointing to God’s grace
Finally, we will become a stumbling block when we do not point people to the grace of God. When we create so many steps and rules for people to become real Christians and receive the salvation from God which is offered freely, we become the worst stumbling block possible. This is what Paul wrote: “For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 2Corinthians 6:2-4.” The day of salvation is now, the time of God’s favor is here. We should announce to everyone that salvation is available and it is free. If we do not do that we are shutting Heaven’s door to people.
As you can see my brother and sisters, we face in our journey many of these stumbling blocks, but unfortunately we cause some of them. As I said, we should become a stepping stone, and try at all cost not to be a stumbling block.
May God help you!