My past few articles have dealt with Romans 14 which tells us to refrain from judging others in matters of opinion and preference. The reasons could not be more obvious, clear, and logical. We are not capable nor do we have the authority. No other human belongs to us. Each and every one of them belongs to God. In addition Romans 14 is very explicit about the damage we do when we judge others on matters of opinion. And I submit that much of what we get upset about is a matter of opinion. Romans 14 tells us that we become an obstacle; we hurt our brothers; we destroy our brothers; and we tear down the work of God. We ought to expect discipline and chastisement from the Lord.
Surely we ought not to offend our brothers and sisters, but there is another side to this coin. Psalms 119:161-165 says, “Princes persecute me without cause, But my heart stands in awe of Your words. I rejoice at Your word, As one who finds great spoil. I hate and despise falsehood, But I love Your law. Seven times a day I praise You, Because of Your righteous ordinances. Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble. NASU Just as it is wrong for me to judge others which puts stumbling blocks in their way, it is every bit as wrong for me to allow myself to be offended by others. Verse 165 says that if I love God’s law nothing will cause me to stumble. No one else can put a stumbling block in my way without my permission, perhaps without my cooperation. If I trip over a stumbling block, it is primarily my fault, regardless of who put the stumbling block there.
1 John 2:9-11 speaks clearly to this issue, “The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” NASU In other words, if I say that I am a believer in Christ but I am putting stumbling blocks in my brother’s way, then I am not a Christian regardless of what I say. Also, if I am putting stumbling blocks in others’ way then I will be walking in darkness and not know where I am going. This seems to guarantee stumbling on my part. I cannot put stumbling blocks in front of another person without also putting them in my own way.
If anyone does something that causes me to take my eyes off Christ, the problem is mine not theirs. The issue is in my heart not theirs. Nothing should cause me to stumble. If another person can do anything to hurt my relationship with Christ, then there is something wrong with me. The modern church has far too many members who have either left or have pulled back in various ways because someone else has offended them. The one who does the offending is wrong but no more than the one who is offended. Psalms 119 says that if I love God’s law nothing will offend me and I will have great peace. If you are not involved with a local church, if you are not fully engaged in the activities of your church because of being offended, the fault is yours not the fault of one who offended you.