“What a beautiful necklace you are wearing!” is not the thought one would have if they saw this image or the thought Jesus was trying to portray when He said: “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” Lk. 17:2)
No, Jesus is addressing the issue of you and I causing someone to get off track (or God forbid) keep one from ever even getting on track with God.
We would never set out to do such a thing and Jesus knows this, which is why He issues a stern warning to His disciples “So watch yourselves.” (v. 3) In other words be cautious because we can even do it unaware or unintentionally by things we say (Js. 3:1-2), the way we live (1 Cor. 8:9), or by the judgmental attitudes we can sometimes communicate (Rom. 14:13).
We want to be conscious and intentional to be people of grace (vv. 3-4) and to encourage others to have great faith (v. 6). It is our job to be righteous servants of God, not self-righteous (vv.7-10) being ever grateful in our hearts and attitudes toward God for all He has done for us and displaying that attitude for others to see as a bold witness to them (vv. 11-19).
We don’t have to be uptight and walk on egg shells to avoid hurting people — we simply need to walk humbly and purposefully close to Jesus in order to be what He has called us to be for His purpose and others sake.
Dr. William Burnham is pastor of Point of Grace Church in Covington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.