He never promised the way would be easy. In fact, he told us it would be more likely the opposite:
- In this world you will have trouble.
- If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
- A time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Well, you get the picture. The road had not been easy for the Israelites, nor would it be for those who chose to follow Christ.
Not only were there going to be struggles from the outside, but there would also be some pretty high expectations on how we should live in the first place…not as the world lives, but holy lives, pleasing unto God. That’s a pretty tall order, especially when no one else was following the rules.
Narrow is the road…
All this is running through my mind in recent weeks when I came across an especially tough passage in Matthew, chapter eighteen. Jesus was asked by his disciples, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus draws a young child to himself and says, “whoever humbles himself like this child…”
That humility, it can get us into trouble.
Especially when living in a hostile world, but of course the disciples wouldn’t know anything about that, right? Yeah, right.
Then, Jesus goes even further with some warnings:
“Woe to the one who causes one of these little ones to sin.” Don’t get me started on how the world is excelling in this department, but I know I too have to watch my words, my actions, my natural-man tendencies around children. May God keep me ever aware of how I live around the little ones.
Then, Jesus makes an obvious move from speaking to the disciples and shares the next woe to the world:
I emphasized two phrases in these words of Christ. The world is facing judgement (woe) because of the things that cause people to sin. We can all agree that the list will be long in that area, and yes, the world will be facing judgement because of them.
But “the world” is a general term, so Jesus gets more specific: Woe to the man (or woman we can assume) through whom they come. The world doesn’t entice us to sin in a vacuum. Man creates the movies, writes the books, opens the sex stores, and pulls children into the sex trade. Man speaks in anger, raises his fist, sparks division, encourages hate, all the while inviting others to join him.
Yes, the world will face judgement, and this world will come to an end at Christ’s return, but individual men and women who actively put stumbling blocks in the paths of others will be paying an eternal price for their actions.
Woe to them.
Stumbling blocks must come. Jesus said it. It’s part of that hard path, the hostile environment in which we’re forced to live until we enter our heavenly home. It’s not always easy to avoid the rocks placed in our way or the pits dug to catch us, but being aware of the dangers, being aware that it’s part of the trouble of this world helps us to stay on the straight and narrow by his grace.
You think these days are rough — just wait, there’s more ahead. However, in the meantime, we stay clear of being caught up with those perpetrating acts of darkness.
Listen for God’s voice saying “whoa there now” before he says “woe to you.” That takes humility, like that of a child.
Let us walk in the light, as He is in the light…and let our lights shine bright to his glory.
Grace and Peace