After exegeting the depths of Matthew 18, I can confidently present to you how to be a stumbling block, according to Jesus.
1. Don’t see your own sin (Matt 18:6-9)
Curiously our own sins are never quite as bad as other people’s. Weird how that works, huh? I guess it’s just because we try harder, you know? We go to church, we do Bible stuff, we tithe, we try to be Good Christians. Are we perfect? Of course not! We’ve got some sin going on in our lives. But Jesus died for that, so we’re just taking it one day at a time in his righteousness! Hallelujah amen!
2. Don’t worry about other people (Matt 18:10-14)
God helps those who help themselves. We’re pretty sure the Bible says that. In Proverbs, maybe? Anyway, we can’t always be worrying about other people. They need to work out their own salvation. God forbid we become enablers or something. That would be anti-gospel!
3. Shame other people for their sin (Matt 18:15-17)
Hate the sin, love the sinner – gosh do we ever live by this rule! True Christian love is to help others break free from the sins in their lives, especially if they’re, you know, super obvious. We don’t want them to give the wrong impression about Christianity or, Lord forbid, our churches! We can’t have that! It might scare folks off if a bunch of sinners – we mean real sinners – showed up in church, and then the offerings would just plummet. How can we do the Lord’s work without offerings?
4. Don’t forgive people as you’ve been forgiven (Matt 18:21-35)
We’re all just human…but at some point the sanctification has to kick in, right? We can’t soft-soap people – tough Christian love, that’s the way. If sanctification doesn’t appear to be happening, something must be wrong. Maybe they’re not committed enough. Are they not at church every Sunday? Do they party, live together outside of marriage, cuss, refuse to volunteer for things, give less than their ten percent, make questionable choices? In that case, decisions have to be made…
It’s not that we’re being unreasonable. God loves them! He forgives them! But it’s such a kick in his teeth if they don’t at least try to live up to that forgiveness. We all try our best; why shouldn’t they?
If you’ve ever been a stumbling block, raise your hand. Maybe your hand is in the air too! Let’s try to remember that the next time it starts to point fingers at people. Jesus would rather we chop it off than keep nursing its accusations.