A Stumbling Block
The problem with being a stumbling block is that we can be one and not know it.
A stumbling-block is when I so act as to cause another to sin. I have a part in influencing another to do that which they think is sinful because they see me do it. That one is not persuaded fully in their own mind that what they are about to do is a right thing to do but because they see me do it they follow and violate their own conscience.
The challenge comes when someone follows us to their own sin, but we do not know we have lead them that way. We do not know everyone who is watching us. We do not know how everyone that watches regards certain things. Did the fellow who could eat meat know the fellow who could not eat was eating meat to his own destruction? We do not have the right to cause another to sin. God is very strong about that (Matt. 18:6-9). But, we may not know we have caused another to sin.
So if we are unaware of having become a stumbling block, what do we do? Well, there is not much we can do until the one who we caused to sin comes to us. When we learn of what we have caused, then we sincerely ask for their forgiveness. We try to learn from our mistake. We try to see how our behavior influences others. We must not look down on them with a condemning attitude toward them (Rom. 14:3, 10). We must realize the price of our brother’s soul is more than what we want (1Cor. 8:13).
But let’s considerer one more thing. What if I do something my brother simply does not like? First, that is not what it means to be a stumbling block. Dislike of another person’s attitude or behavior may be repulsive to us but that is not an occasion to sin. Can we be hard-hearted and indifferent? First, there is the responsibility of the one who has the issue. That one has made a choice. There may be many reasons for that choice. If that one has chosen to get upset, is it possible that they can choose not to get upset? Can they choose to allow the other person the freedom of their own mind? Second, does that mean the one who has been the cause of a difference has no responsibility? Yes, he has the freedom to his own attitude and behavior, but being considerate of other is important, too. Being the one who puts others first is also important.
Certainly there can be no end to this last issue. But if we are willing to give up ourselves, wouldn’t that go a whole long way in solving issues that arise like this?
Here is the rub: it is okay to expect that of others but not me. “I am not the problem. They are.” Now that’s a problem.