June 2

Text: Matthew 18:6

“. . . Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (NASB)

This is both a frightening and a challenging verse.  It is frightening and challenging because it addresses the purpose of spiritual knowledge.  The tendency has long been to associate knowledge with (1) a mission to destroy and (2) the responsibility to confront .  This directive from Jesus declares that the purpose of knowledge is (1) to promote learning and (2) to increase understanding.

Observation: The first emphasis usually has a negative connotation and the second usually has a positive connotation.  Perhaps this increases perspective: Having correct spiritual knowledge does not give the knower a license to destroy the less knowledgeable.  Using correct knowledge to destroy the less informed has dire consequences!

Consider this sobering reality: Never in ANYTHING did the disciples’ knowledge and understanding equal that of Jesus.  Often, the disciples did not “get it!”  Yet, Jesus never destroyed them.  Yes, he was frustrated, forgave, repeated himself, or endured much.  Yet, when it was obvious that the disciples would not understand until Jesus died and was resurrected, he refused to let the disciples’ ignorance force him to give up on them.

If Jesus showed such patience with the disciples’ ignorance, faith in Jesus should make us patient with the less knowledgeable.  If we expect Jesus to be patient with our ignorance, we need to be patient with others’ ignorance.  Causing a little one to stumble was worse than what they regarded as terrible!

Two happenings were mentioned that Jews of that time found abhorrent: (1) drowning and (2) failure to recover a body.  The type of millstone mentioned was huge.  Were it tied to a neck and that person cast into the sea, drowning was certain and body recovery would not happen.

Causing an uninformed believer in Jesus to fall was worse!  The consequences of causing a believer to stumble are horrible!

Suggestion for reflection: Are you an encouragement to insight or a discouraging confrontation?  (Read 1 Corinthians 8:7-13.)

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