Wednesday, July 08, 2015


Woe to the world because of offenses!  For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!  (Matthew 18:7)

Are you a stepping-stone or a stumbling block?  God wants His people to be a bridge to help people to reach Him, rather than a barrier to hinder them from coming.  We are a daily advertisement for Christ.  Is the ad appealing?  We can be humble or haughty, holy or hypocritical, helpful or hateful—we will seldom be neutral.  We will be a positive or negative influence.  Jesus presents that sobering reality in Matthew 18.

Our attitude will make a difference in whether we are a stumbling block or stepping-stone.  In verses 1-7, Jesus is speaking about the humble spirit of a small child, as contrasted to the arrogant bully who runs roughshod over people.  We are being like the Savior when we are humble (Phil.2:3-8), but like Satan when we are haughty (Isa.14:12-15).  What is the humility of a child?  They do not worry about appearance.  They are genuine instead of putting up a front.  Children want to help.  They have the soul of a servant.  Then things get messed up.  Ego grows with our girth and physical stature demands social status to match.  Jesus called upon his grownups to become childlike.  Receive little children (v.5), rather than reject them.  Go to work in the church nursery—that is the factory for producing humble servants!  Change some diapers if you doubt it!  The most solemn warning is given to those who cause children to stumble (v.6-7).

We will be stumbling blocks rather than stepping-stones if we allow sinful passions to dominate our deeds, direction, and desires (v.8-14).  Woven into the very fabric of our soul are these dark threads of lust—wicked appetites that demand feeding.  Our world enshrines them, we enthrone them—only to find we become enslaved by them.  Chains of corruption—fetters of filth—wrap themselves around the heart and drag men and women down into hell.  Jesus said that radical surgery was demanded for this heart problem.  Extreme measures must be taken to overcome evil.  He was speaking metaphorically.  Mutilation will not produce holiness.  What Jesus is calling for is repentance—turning from sin by taking the sinner to the cross and turning to Christ by receiving His new life by faith.  The ultimate issue is getting a new heart—and that is salvation (v.8-10).  How many sinners spurn salvation because they have seen preachers and church members living immoral lives while calling others to new life—what a pious fraud!  God is all about seeking lost sheep (v.11-14).  We need a passion for souls, rather than sin.

Bitterness will be another barrier to people receiving our witness (v.15-35).  Grudges grind ugliness into our faces and the corrosive speech that we utter from an unforgiving heart is repulsive.  We dare not herald grace while holding grudges.  A winsome witness, who wins someone to Christ, has experienced the joy of forgiveness, and wants others to know it!  This is the church’s work (v.15-20).  The harsh face of the legalist and haughty tones of their criticism never draw people to Christ.  Bitterness makes you ugly.  It makes your breath reek with condemnation and your eyes bulge with hate.  If we want forgiveness then we must be willing to extend it (v.21-35).  Bitterness erect barriers and grace builds bridges.  Are we stumbling blocks or stepping-stones?

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