From: Su Min
Subject: (4 Feb) Stumbling Block
Monday 4th February 1997
Epistle to The CyberChurch
GREETINGSTo my precious children: my yeled and yeldah:
("Yeh-led" Strong's Concordance #3206: something born: offspring, boy, child)
("Yal-daw" Strong's Concordance #3207: feminine of 3206: a lass, damsel, girl)
Love, peace and grace be to you from God the Almighty;
Peace, grace and love be to you from God the Son;
Grace, love and peace be to you from God the Holy Spirit!
TEXTToday we look at the Word of God brought to us in the gospel according to St Matthew_18:6-9.
CONTEXTJesus had just taught the disciples a lesson in humility: they wanted to know who was the greatest: he taught them that true greatness came with childlike humility. Childlike humility instils into us the very presence of God! "Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." (Matthew_18:5)
STONESBut if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.(Matthew_18:6)
Jesus had just paid his temple dues in order not to be a stumbling stone to others (Matthew_17:27). Having demonstrated by practical example that one should not trip up young believers, Jesus uses a hyperbole to drive the point home. As he was teaching in Capernaum, one may well imagine that he was pointing to the Sea of Galilee! Deep depths to drown in, indeed. And the presence of olive oil presses abounded in the region. Great big olive oil presses with huge millstones. If you wanted to "do some one in" with sure result: hang a millstone around their neck: and throw them into the deep sea. A sure way to get rid of troublesome characters.
The Rock of Israel (Genesis_49:24) who is the Cornerstone (Psalms_118:22), the Capstone, the Stone the builders rejected, the Living Stone (1_Peter_2:4-7) teaches us that we should not be stumbling blocks: It is better to have a millstone hung around our neck to drown us rather that to mislead innocent little children, young believers in the Lord.
How do we cause young believers to sin? We may have set bad examples for them. We may have taught them wrong things. We may have failed to teach them right things. These sins of commission and sins of omission will weigh heavily against us. It is bad enough if we sin ourselves, but Jesus says it is even worse for us to cause others to sin, especially little children. The next time you see a little child, do all you can to keep his feet on the straight and narrow path. Do all you can to feed her with the truth, the Word of God. Verily verily I say unto you it were better that a millstone be hangeth about your neck and that you be drowned in the depth of the sea, than for you to cause a young believer to sin.
RESPONSIBILITYWoe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin. Such things must come, but woe to the man through which they come. (Matthew_18:7)
It is a fallen world. We are soaked in sin. Jesus calls us to repent: to be washed in his blood. To be redeemed. We are children of light, children of God. The prince of darkness no longer controls us. We submit to the lordship of Jesus. But old habits die hard. Our human side still sins so easily. And it so easy for use to cause others to sin. Jesus warns us about this.
The one who does not know and does the things deserving of punishment will be beaten with a few blows. But the one who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. For everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke_12:48)
Look at this teaching from a physical point of view: your health, your talents, your worldly goods: use them for God's work. Look at it from a spiritual point of view. You have been given eternal life, the keys to heaven: daily bread: living water: Much has been given to you: much will be demanded; much has been entrusted to you: much more will be asked of you: This is the Word of God: Thanks be to God!
SPIRITUAL SURGERYIf your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed and crippled than to have two hands and two feet and to be thrown into eternal fire (Matthew_18:8)
And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell (Matthew_18:9)
Again the hyperbole, the exaggeration to prove the point. Did our Lord, who loves us so much, loved us enough to come and live with us, loved us enough to die for us: loved us enough to fight and conquer the grave for us, could He literally mean for us to take a knife to cut off our hand or foot: take a spoon and gouge out our eye? No way! But this spiritual surgery is recommended to emphasise the point that our body parts can lead us to wreck and ruin.
The hand: meant to be used to do God's will.
It may strike another person: a slap, a punch, in anger: sin to avoid.
It may write evil letters, type on a keyboard via a Internet malicious gossip:
It may bring to the mouth unwholesome food, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes.
It may be held out in greedy avarice for money: it may proffer a bribe: It may handle the implements for gambling.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to be thrown into eternal fire.
The feet: meant to walk the straight and narrow:
But oh so easily they stray: sliding down the slippery slope
Leading straight to the house of the adulteress.
Bringing us to the company of the hypocrites and the "holier than thou"
Running towards the bright city lights. for the pleasures of the flesh.
Running away from the poor, the widow, the orphan, the alien, the oppressed, the sick, the prisoner.
Running away from the lost sheep.
Running away from God.
We know where we should be walking to, but our feet take us in the opposite direction.
If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and to be thrown into the outer darkness where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth.
The eyes are the windows to the soul.
Cast in the right direction, they allow us to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves.
Cast in the wrong way, we look with covetousness: we look with lust:
We look at our neighbour's house and covert his property. We look at our neighbour's wife and covert her body.
We look at things we know we should not be looking at:
Are there not those of us who read the share prices more avidly than we read the Word of God?
If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell! ...Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched (Mark_9:48)
HELL AND DAMNATIONIn some circles it is no longer acceptable preach about hell and damnation.
A sanitised Disneyland version of religion is spread where God is love but His Truth and His Righteousness, and our condemnation to hell is stealthily avoided. The God of wrath is reconciled to us as the God of love through the cross: but this makes hell no less real.
Beloved, the devil is most pleased when people stop talking about hell: But you can be as sure as hell that you are going there if you do not believe it!
Hell is a place of eternal torment: the fire burns: the thirst cannot be quenched: sinners will spend the rest of eternity separated from God. The rich man in hell begged Lazarus to tell his brothers, that they may not end with the same fate: (Luke_16:19-31).
God is Holy. God cannot have a relationship with us if we continue in sin. The prodigal son's life in the pits, amongst the pigs, is but a minor version of hell and damnation, the fire and brimstone to which every sinner is condemned. But God in all His mercy wants to woo us back. He sent His son to redeem us. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans_8:1)
ENTER LIFEBut chose to walk the straight and narrow, choose to illuminate your path with The Truth and The Light, and already you begin to enter life: your relationship with God Almighty does not only start when you reach heaven: but begins here on earth. You are born again. You inherit the position of child of God. You enter the fellowship of the communion of saints: the body of Christ: the church catholic and universal: God's presence is with you always to comfort and guide you. The Holy Spirit is there to teach you. Jesus is with you as Teacher, Friend, Shepherd, Saviour, Lord.
Abba, Father, thank you for your Word today
We submit our body, heart and soul to you.
Teach us to meditate on your word.
Guide us as we venture into the world
That we may serve you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen
I long to dwell in dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings
For any comments or enquiries please write to Dr. Lim Su Min
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