No More Stumbling

Romans 14: 13

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

Paul has an interesting message for us today. He was dealing with a problem of people judging each other. The Christian church had both Jews and Gentiles and their customs and beliefs were very different. Even their diets were different. Paul opened up the chapter by writing, “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgement on his opinion.” (V. 1). Interesting!

We have not been called to judge others, but we are very prone to it. We don’t like being judged either and we don’t usually make friends with those who judge us. So, why do we think people are going to want to become part of our Christian group when we begin with judgment? And here is a worse problem, will we have to account for those who did not receive salvation because we ran them off? That is a frightening thought.

We are told not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in another’s way. The implication is that we are barring people from reaching their place in Jesus and Paul said our judgments are largely responsible. We need to stop being the reasons people don’t want to meet Jesus. We must stop creating obstacles to salvation. Our ideas of people’s worthiness or what they should be are not furthering the Kingdom. We just haven’t been equipped with the knowledge or wisdom necessary to make those determinations. And why do we want to shoulder such a huge burden anyway?

Earlier in this same book Paul wrote, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8: 1). He was trying to introduce people to Christ and have each one accept and honor the other. He had quite a task on his hands as the early church sought to integrate people with very different lifestyles, cultures and values. Then again, it’s not so different from what we are dealing with today.

There is not a person on this earth that God doesn’t love. They (we) are all His kids and thus, all brothers. Even the ones who do not call Him Father are still His and He loves them despite any and all flaws. He sees His beautiful child, not a flawed person. People are fleeing from the Kingdom because of obstacles we have erected. Let us make a concerted effort to break down the walls of obstruction. And by the way, most of those walls are in our own minds. Let us no longer create separation and hurdles which are causing people to stumble. Instead, let us create an inviting, loving space where all people can enter and come to know God for the first time or to get to know Him better. He is love, let’s prove it.

No Cause for Stumbling

Psalm 73: 2 – 5, 12

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; and their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; nor are they plagued like mankind. 12 Behold, these are the wicked; and always at ease, they have increased in wealth.

I suppose most dedicated Christians have almost stumbled over this stone at some time or another. You dedicate yourself and your life to the Lord and you fully expect that you will fare well in your service to Him. The next thing you know, you look around you and it seems the heathen are succeeding while the Christians are suffering.  

Well, don’t lose hope if that is where you are now. It is only an appearance. When you read this passage in its entirety, you see that the wicked get the fruit of the seed they have planted. The good news is that you will reap the fruit of your good seed as well. While it looks for a while like the good guys are losing, it is just an illusion. The universe produces fruit after its own kind. You cannot sow broccoli and get tomatoes. Galatians 6: 7 reads, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” The wicked will fall and you will succeed if you do not faint. Do not envy their success because it is short lived and laden with sorrow and pitfalls. Do not stumble over the apparent success of the unbelieving. God is faithful. Hang in there.


Luke 7: 22 – 23

And He answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard; the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. 23 And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”

John the Baptist sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if he was the one the Jews were awaiting, the Messiah. Above is Jesus’ response. Verse 22 makes perfect sense; it is about what you would expect Jesus to say but what about verse 23. Isn’t that one of the most amazing statements?

I really had not thought about people stumbling over Jesus. He is our light but think about Jews. I suppose quite a few have stumbled over him. Still though, I perceive that there is much more to this statement than first appears. Over the last 5 years or so since I first began thinking about this verse, I have noticed that quite a few of us do stumble over Jesus.

This has been startling to me. This stumbling seems to take the form of not wanting to acquiesce to his leadership or to his words. We read the Word and right there, in plain sight is a mandate and yet are unwilling to yield. Here is one example, you can think of many others. Jesus says plainly, “Forgive” and yet some of us will go to our graves with unrepentant anger and unforgiveness. How about this one, “Do not judge”? Again, it’s pretty clear what this commandment demands. You don’t need a theologian to explain it to you but every day we judge others and condemn whole populations to hell.

The truth of the matter is that many of us routinely trip over Jesus. Who knew? Well, I guess Jesus did. He knew that people would struggle with living life according to the Spirit of truth and the way of the Kingdom rather than living according to the world’s rules and standards. “The Way” is not the common way. Following Jesus necessarily means being different. We are called a peculiar people. “For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations on the earth” (Deuteronomy 14: 2 Amplified). And speaking of Jesus Paul wrote “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2: 14). But people stumble over Jesus. They stumble over the love commandment. People who claim to love Jesus and who present a holy life to outside observance trip over his words and the nudges of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” Our blessing is in our adherence to Jesus and his ways. Salvation, in all its forms, is in him. I don’t think we can ignore his words and teachings and still experience his grace. This seems to be a package deal. Are you in or are you out? Be blessed in Jesus’ name!