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. - Matthew 18:6
Many evangelicals read the passage of dealing with sin in the Church in Matthew 18 and take liberty to judge, criticize, or publicly speak against others in the body of Christ. But very few care to look at the entire chapter and see the context and heart of our Lord, towards offences and unity in the Church. Jesus first starts by standing a little child in the midst of his Apostles and teaches them that this is the example for all who will go to heaven. The Bible calls us children of God (Galatians 3:26) our standing is one of dependence on the grace of God. The Apostles just like all others are to be like children. God also does call leadership over His Church to shepherd God's people (1 Peter 5:1-3) so this solemn word now comes to these future leaders for the body of Christ. Do we realize how serious it is to the Lord to see division in the Church? When we offend others and cause others to stumble it is very serious to the Lord. Jesus says it is better to suffer a terrible death physically then live in such a way as a Christian that you cause others to even fall away from the faith. Stumbling or offences start with division and a lack of humility in the Church. The problem is not others it is yourself, Jesus is saying.
Our Lord says, "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away" (Matthew 16:8). What solemn warning that if there is something in our life that is causing disunity, causing hurt and offences in others, it would be better for us to deal with that problem in our life so that we would not cause hurt in others in the Church. Many who speak hard things and hurt others in the Church claim they are mature and others are not. But in the Scriptures the mature are those who with love and grace nurture and help others, pray for others and seek the best to uplift even the weakest in the body of Christ. Some of those who cannot fit into Churches claim they are prophets and speak hard words constantly naming others. Such lack humility and true maturity in may ways because they cannot humble themselves to love others and help the weak. Our Lord as shown in this chapter always sought to help those who were needy and simple. He never despised spiritual children but sought to encourage them along the way. Clement of Rome said, "Why do we tear apart and rend asunder the members of Christ, and make sedition against our body, and come to such a degree of madness that we forget we are members one of another? Remember the words of our Lord Jesus, for he said, Woe unto that man; it were good for him if he had never been born, rather than that he should cause one of my elect to offend. It were better for him that a millstone were tied about him, and that he were cast into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of my little ones to offend." May God open our eyes to see things from his eternal perspective and seek unity in his body.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon