Bad company corrupts good character. Don’t be that bad company. Don’t be a poor influence on the faith of others. My integrity or hypocrisy in my faith dramatically impacts those around me, and particularly upon those who are new or young in the faith…
1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.”
Woe to anyone through whom stumbling comes. Temptations are on the horizon. There will be things which cause people to stumble. This is the truth as long as it is called today. Why? Because our souls are redeemed within bodies which are still subject to the struggles of temptation.
Paul shares in Romans 8:23 that “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.” We have the Spirit, yet also, we still have our physical bodies which are subject to temptation and sin. That’s the reality for the Jesus follower until Jesus comes again.
So while we wait – while we hope – we are subject to the flesh. Jesus says we should watch ourselves. There is an obvious watch yourself in terms of the temptation to sin. Here, though, Jesus gives a higher level watch yourself. Watch yourself that you don’t cause others to sin.
We can see here that the context has to do with little ones. We know from the other gospels that Jesus was interacting with children when said these words. It’s better to be drowned in the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. The teaching can be extended to the community of Christ’s followers.
Don’t make others stumble. Either in their coming to Jesus or in their staying loyal to Jesus. Bad company corrupts good character, Paul writes in 1Corinthians 15:33. Don’t be that bad company.
Don’t be a poor influence on the faith of others.
We can imagine many ways this plays out in our community. My integrity or hypocrisy in my own faith has a dramatic impact on those around me, and particularly upon those who are the little ones in terms of immaturity in their own relationship with God. We don’t live in a vacuum. Our freedom as followers of Christ exists in the context of interconnectedness in the Body of Christ.
So watch yourselves. Thank you Jesus. We needed that.