Thoughts from today’s reading of Matthew 18…
6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! 8 If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
I’ve heard this text used on a number of occasions regarding everything from drinking alcohol to dancing and playing sports competitively to smoking cigars. While I absolutely agree that if someone struggles with any of these things (and anything else), wisdom must prevail so that they will not stumble. The part that I’ve always struggled with is how easily we use this text to talk about drinking, dancing, and smoking and yet are far more lax or even straight up blind to the way we talk or act in front of others. The Asian culture is an honor and shame based culture. I believe that the implicit “shaming” that we do in our lives is one of the greatest stumbling blocks to not just Asians, but across all ethnic contexts. It is such a part of our lives that we don’t recognize nor acknowledge this. This text is a lot more inclusive of the stumbling blocks in our lives than we realize.
We can see the seriousness of causing people to “stumble”—I mean hanging a large millstone around our necks and throwing ourselves into the sea is pretty bad! How about cutting off a foot or a hand? Or to enter into this world maimed or crippled? Eyes gouged out and tossed away? Jesus Himself is reminding us of not just the seriousness of the consequences, but how much deeper and broader the “causing to stumble” is a part of our lives. My comments aren’t about not pointing out stumbling blocks. I am, however, saying that this text sure causes me to be far, far slower in pointing a “stumbling block” out in someone else’s actions before I take a closer look at the categorically same actions taken in my own. #desiringGod2017