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Stumbling Blocks and Steppingstones
April 1, 2022

Luke 17 begins with Jesus instructing His disciples. He said to them, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

While Jesus was talking to His disciples about what to expect when encountering others, He warns and prepares them for times when there would be various hurts, emotional injuries and injustices committed by others to them. He says, “Offenses will come.” Offenses are an element of life where we live in a fallen world; where unbelievers will oppose the truths we hold dear and some will seek to cause us harm. Offenses is defined as a breach of a law or rule, an illegal act. Jesus lets us know that in this life they cannot be avoided. They are certain and sure. He warns us so that we will be prepared when they do come. But He also would warn and instruct His disciples so that they personally would not be used to bring an offense or be a cause of offense to others.

He goes on to say, “Woe to him through whom they do come.” In other words, do not be the source of an offense coming through our heart and mouth to harm others. The seriousness of this offense is qualified by the one-syllable word, “Woe!” It is further illustrated by the graphic illustration of a millstone hung around the neck of the guilty one and he then cast into the sea. Actually, Jesus is telling us in light of the seriousness of the crime that it would be better to be cast into the sea than to offend one of His children.

After the warning given in Luke 17:3 and 4 to “Take heed to yourselves,” Jesus gives clear instruction of what to do to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. It begins with repentance. He says, “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I repent, you shall forgive him.”

We can see that in our relationships with others, there will be times where we must be forgiving of others; just as God has been with us. There will always be offenses. Let us be prayerful as we seek God to continue His workmanship in us so that stumbling blocks that come our way will be ultimately used as steppingstones on this Christian journey.

This article was first published in The Omaha Star (Vol.84-No.7) – April 1, 2022
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