17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 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. 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister[a] sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you. 7 “Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
This passage covers a range of topics, but verse 1-3 caught my attention. Jesus, using hyperbole makes an important point regarding our responsibility to ensure our actions do not lead other people away from God.
Certainly, there are times when Christians lead other Christians into gross sin. This is sometimes the case with young Christians leading others to act on their sexual desire, and they need to consider this verse closely. However, for most of us enticing others to act on desires is far less of a problem than the subtle sin of provocation.
This leaves me wondering how often I provoke others to frustration or anger by what I do or say. Ignoring or dismissing other opinions. Looking down on people as less worthy or being so inflexible that other cannot work with you. Being discourteous to other drivers on the road or disrespecting other people’s property.
So, take the opportunity today to consider whether you subtly provoke people through insensitivity. Putting it a better way, consider today how you might encourage another person to love and good deeds.
Lord, help us to be sensitive to other people and how we may lead them towards and not away from you. Highlight to me one simple act of kindness I can do today.
Written by David Newton