Romans 14:13, “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
I read a story once about a blind man who sat on a street corner and begged daily. The story told that he often begged into the night as people would pass by. When the sun would go down, the blind man would take a lantern, light it and set it beside him. A person who walked by asked, “If you are blind, why do you need the lantern?” He answered, ”The lantern is not for me, but for those who pass by.” He went on to say that he couldn’t bear the thought of causing someone to stumble and fall over him as he begged. The story is one that comes to mind when I read our study verse. Through the Book of Romans, Paul labored to establish the disciples in the truth. The doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Church was important to this man and he was willing to lose his life standing for it. Paul was equally concerned about the experiential lives of the disciples of Jesus. In Romans 14 the Apostle calls on them to examine themselves on a regular basis. Even though the context of Romans 14 is about days and meats, the principle the Apostle taught can be applied to many others things.
Question, “Are we causing our brothers and sisters to stumble?” At first thought or glance you may think, “There’s no way I could cause another to stumble”, but maybe we should take a closer look. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember, but there was a time when Sis. Jennifer and I were the only two living in the house. During that time, we could get up at any hour of the night and walk through the house without any worry of tripping over toys or stepping on a Lego. After the kids were born, those times changed. We started having to leave a light on and walk slowly; being cautious of the next step. If my little children are able to cause Sis. Jennifer and I to stumble over toys at night, I’m convinced that a sinner like me could cause another disciple to stumble and lose his or her spiritual stability.
As we consider the subject, it is imperative that we understand that there is more than one way to cause someone to stumble.
- One could cause another to stumble by teaching. Just the thought should cause each one of us to search the subject thoroughly before we begin to teach others. Jesus taught in Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” If the Lord has given one a position to teach others, a greater condemnation can and will fall on them by not leading and teaching truthfully and accurately. Pastors and deacons should pay close attention to this fact and live every day of their lives in reverential fear of God (Romans 14:12).
- Another way that one can cause someone to stumble is by example. Hebrews 4:11 reads, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” The writer is referring to the negative example the people of Israel gave in the wilderness. The example, of the Israelites in the wilderness, is one that could be a hindrance to a disciple of Jesus and cause them to stumble. Meditating upon this subject should cause us to examine ourselves and search to see if there is something that we are doing that could cause other children of God to stumble into a life separated from the Lord’s rich fellowship. This includes our speech, actions and faithfulness to the Lord’s service.
We should always be a people who help God’s children to get closer to Him, not causing them to stumble and fall away from the strait and narrow way (Matt 7:14). It is also good to keep in mind the Lord said there would be severe judgment and punishment upon those who would cause one of His little children to stumble, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt 18:6).