When you were in school, did you ever see someone slide their foot out as someone was walking by and the person walking, tripped, and fell? Was the one tripping the other you? Were you the one who fell?
At the moment, tripping another may appear funny, like “Three Stooges” humor, but tripping another person is not really funny. You know it’s no fun if you were the one who fell after being tripped. It can be dangerous. Tripping another is no laughing matter.
In Mark 9:42, Jesus warns His disciples about tripping other people in spiritual, faith, sinful, and eternal ways.
“And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.”
The word “offend” is a very interesting Greek word. We get our Enlish word, “Scandel” from it. Offend simply means “to cause to stumble, to trip up.” It’s like causing a scandal in a person and their relationship with God.
A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says that σκανδαλίζω, Scandal or Offend means, “to put a stumbling-block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall; to be a stumbling-block”
Here are four ways Offend / Scandal is used in the Bible.
A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
- a. to entice to sin
- b. to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away, and in pass. to fall away
- c. to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another
- d. to cause one to feel displeasure at a thing; to make indignant
A mill stone in old times that Jesus is referring to was a grinding stone used to pulverize grain into flour. Many times these round stones rotated with a hole in the middle with animals such as a mule or two, walking in circles, spinning the stone. Workers would throw grain down between the stone and the stone floor and then collect flour for baking. There was a large pin in the middle of the millstone ensuring the stone would remain in place while being spun in a circle. Some of these mill stones would weigh hundreds of pounds.
Jesus says, the person who trips up a “little one” and causes them to stumble in their faith in God, or cause them to commit sin, or walk away from the Lord will be held accountable. It is better for the person who “trips other people” to have a mill stone hung around his head and to be cast into the sea.
Death is certain if a millstone is on your neck and you are tossed into the water. It is the opposite of wearing a life jacket while boating. This is a judgment Jesus is referring to for those who lead others away from God. The contrasting word “better” is insightful. If a person is tripping up others, it is “better” for him to be judged and executed than for him to continue to lead multiple other people astray. The gravity of this teaching is quite staggering for us to consider. Don’t be a tripper, spiritualy speaking!
The Every Day Carry Christian is aware of himself/herself in dealing with other people. The EDC Christian will consider these 3 questions when being cautious about not tripping others.
- Are my choices, words, posts, or actions affecting people’s impression of God in a negative way?
- When I post on social media or talk to others, is what I am saying helping faith or hurting faith?
- If and when I sin, am I not only displeasing the Lord but also tempting or leading another person astray?
Make this practical: Check your social media, are the things you post helping people know God or giving a bad impression of “Faith?” Watch your words. God does not want us to trip others up or lead them away from the Lord.
Here are some “Tips to Not Trip:”
- Pray for others.
- Lend a helping hand when another stumbles.
- Purpose to do right while encouraging others to do right.
Years ago, I was sailing a sail boat in Florida. The sun was shining and the wind blowing fast that day. With the waves spritzing water in our faces, my friend and I had our boat propelling through the water at nearly 30 mph. Moving that fast, the hulls of the catamaran boat were skipping on the water. The sail was full of wind and we were having a blast. While steering the boat’s rudder, we took a turn too sharply while traveling too fast, and the boat dipped up out of the water and landed with the 30-foot mast directly in the water, upside down. When the boat flipped, my friend and I were both hurled out of the water.
I was cast into the sea. If there was a mill stone around my neck instead of a life jacket, then I would not be writing this devotional today. Being cast into the saw is no fun and dangerous.
When we lead others stray, tripping up young people, the Lord says being cast into the sea with a mill stone around our neck would be better for us than for being judged for leading another person away from God. Tripping others up is a serious matter to God.