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Treasures from God’s Word and Digging for Spiritual Gems – Carefully avoid Stumbling Yourself and others (Matthew 18-19)
Matthew 18:6-7 (stumbling blocks) (nwtsty)
The Greek word translated “stumbling block” is skandalon. The study notes say about this word “In a figurative sense, it refers to an action or circumstance that leads a person to follow an improper course, to stumble or fall morally, or to fall into sin.”
Interestingly, this word is the basis for the English word, “scandal”, used to refer to the situation when someone is caught acting in a manner considered sinful or unacceptable to the general populace.
The verses warn against stumbling even little ones who have put faith in Jesus Christ. Virtually all witnesses without exception have put faith in Jesus otherwise they would not have made the effort to study the Bible and get baptized. This fact makes the warning all the more powerful.
Sadly, many have been stumbled by the treatment they have received while within the organisation, becoming agnostics, and even atheists. Why might this be the case? It is so, because witnesses are taught to put faith in the organisation. For example:
w02 8/1 Loyally Submit to Godly Authority
How has reviewing the account of Korah strengthened your faith in Jehovah’s visible organization?
When such ones find that what they believed to be the truth has been, in fact, falsehood, and that the Organisation cannot therefore be directed by God, they have nothing left in which to put faith. The Organisation has made itself into the channel or mediator between God and men. Take that away and no perceived path to God remains. Feeling tricked, made out to be the fool, they turn away from all religion and even God himself.
The Bible speaks of a heavier judgment upon those who teach others falsehoods.
“They are the ones devouring the houses of the widows and for a pretext making long prayers; these will receive a heavier judgment.” (Mark 12:40)
Matthew 18:10 (their angels in heaven) (nwtsty) (w10 11/1 16)
This verse is best understood in the light of the following scriptures : Genesis 18, Genesis 19, Exodus 32:34, Psalm 91:11, Job 33:23-26, Daniel 10:13, Acts 12:12-15, Hebrews 1:14.
The Watchtower reference appears to be correct when it says “Jesus did not necessarily mean that each of his followers has a guardian angel assigned to him.” The above cited scriptures suggest that according to need, Jehovah and possibly Jesus, assign an angel to protect and guide a particular person, group, kingdom or country. However, there is no support for an individual guardian angel being assigned to each human as some believe. It seems that Jesus was strongly counselling those listening to treat the little ones, which would include children, with care and respect; the idea being that were such ones harmed, Jehovah would be made aware, and on judgement day it would not go well for their victimizers. This would clearly apply to those who practice child sexual abuse, but would by extension also apply to those who condone, or turn a blind eye to such terrible actions, hiding behind misapplied scriptures.
Never be a cause for Stumbling – Video
The video makes several points:
(1) Pushing someone could cause them to stumble.
The Watchtower Study review for this week highlights an experience of how due to other organization videos, the witnesses now push away those considered ‘weak’.
The video then makes the point that Jehovah could push us, but doesn’t force us to serve him, but rather encourages. How different from the organization which attempts to coerce us into following its particular way of worship. Stephen Lett (GB member) highlights how parents should not coerce their children into serving Jehovah, but the previous two Watchtower Study articles on baptism have been strongly influencing parents to put pressure on children to get baptized, all without one scriptural precedent to justify this course of action.
Lett then highlights that elders should not ‘push’, and gives an example how an elder scolded the congregation because not enough were going to go out in field service the next day, which resulted in even less being willing to do so. I am sure most of us have experienced elders scolding some brothers from the platform along similar lines. At the end of the scolding did you feel like co-operating with that elder’s suggestion afterwards? It is highly unlikely.
Point (2) is putting a stumbling block in front of someone.
Interestingly, Stephen Lett when discussing giving up our personal rights, asks if we would be prepared to give up sporting a beard, wearing heavy makeup, or using alcohol if by doing so we might stumble someone?
Why do we have to give up beards? Why not giving up being clean shaven? One could just as easily say that brothers being clean shaven stumbles us because Jesus had a beard. So should those who object to beards now grow one so we are not stumbled by their clean-shaven skin?
What about asking the question: “Would you decide to grow a beard if being clean shaven could cause someone else to stumble?” Or what about: “Would you avoid eating foods to which your companions are allergic? Would you avoid the heavy use of perfumes, and other chemicals to which many are commonly allergic?”
The answers to these two latter questions are far more important as use of commonly allergenic foods and use of large quantities of certain allergenic perfumes can be life threatening. On the other hand, I have yet to hear of even one person’s life being put in danger because someone else wore a beard.
While wearing a heavy amount of makeup is probably not a good idea for the wearer, it is unlikely to affect someone else’s health.
Only the consuming of alcohol could potentially affect someone else if they then were tempted to copy ones consumption but don’t have the self control.
Lett commits a common mistake by confusing “stumbling” with “offending”. The context of Paul’s words indicate that our actions might lead someone into false worship or into compromising one’s conscience. Unless the culture in which we live associates a beard or makeup with some false religious activity, it is difficult to see how Paul’s words about stumbling apply.
Point (3) concerns failing to point out a trip-hazard.
Given that the organization is creating trip-hazards all the time with its false prophecies causing disillusionment, its shunning policies causing psychological harm, and its mistreatment of abuse victims, perhaps clear warnings should be given to all who contemplate being baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Of all the quotations cited in this article, I find this the most telling: “Sadly, many have been stumbled by the treatment they have received while within the organisation, becoming agnostics, and even atheists. Why might this be the case? It is so, because witnesses are taught to put faith in the organisation. For example: (w02 8/1 Loyally Submit to Godly Authority) How has reviewing the account of Korah strengthened your faith in Jehovah’s visible organization?” It is instructive to search the scriptures regarding faith, since it’s such an important issue. What do we find? Many references to having faith… Read more »
I have always been fascinated by how the scriptures are used to support man made rules. Consider the following: 1. If someone wants to have a tattoo. Leviticus 19:28 is quoted and probably supported by Deuteronomy 14:1-2. These are commandments given to Israel under the law covenant. This is then drawn out to Romans 12:2, and a supposed principle is drawn. Now the key here is what the law stated and we view it accordingly. 2. If someone sports a beard. You are told it is a “worldly style” and could stumble people. Let’s consider the scriptures on the subject.… Read more »
Hi Eleasar Could not agree more. Also what about the double standards? Any JW who is an Arab Moslem has to still wear a beard otherwise they would be killed by Moslems for Apostasy. Yet in the congregation they would have privileges in their home country. But if they visited a Western Country would they be allowed to give a talk or experience at an assembly. Not under current ‘rules’, unless they put their life at risk by shaving off their beard and regrowing it, before returning to their home country. What about preaching? Do they go door to door… Read more »
There is no consistency, as a rules based organisation will always trip over and fall. A congregation based on love will replicate our Father and Son who are not dictators but draws us with love and kindness. They want to favour (grace) us with their generosity and goodness.
Love automatically draws people and they will stay joyfully. Rules and regulations are man made and make people chafe and resist.
Their whole doctrine is a stumbling block to the Lord Jesus Christ. All their false prophecies that have not amounted to anything are really ridiculous. All their rules and regulations they have are ridiculous, they think they are in the seat of God but are not. They send out their young ones in field service to minister to folks that don’t want to hear it, every time my little niece goes out in service I worry for her safety but do they care? No all they care about is how they can make more money. They want a bunch of… Read more »
I know your feelings are strong in this, because you’ve seen and suffered so much yourself. However, many of our brothers and sister will not see things as you do. There are many sites on the internet where strong ridicule of the organization is the norm, but that level of invective just turns away those who are tentatively feeling their way out of the organization. So it is better to temper our words and season our expressions. Speak truth, yes, but in such a way as to win our brothers over.
You are right Meleti and I apologize if my words are somewhat bold and unpleasant. The JW broadcasting channel really makes my stomach turn, the way they talk to people like they are in kindergarten, it’s such a put on, on their part. It seems like with such a serious message they have they would act more like adults.
So true, Psalmbee
My First post here 1Cor 8 is a discussion about food sacrificed to Idols it has no relevance to Beards Makeup Alcohol S disappointing to once again see the GB twisting the scriptures. It is nice to see Eric come out and ID himself and his current videos are presented so simply and backed by scripture. I have been so disappointed on learning the truth about the doctrines that have been taught since the days of CT Russell onwards. I am fulfilling a vow made to a many years ago to a Baptist workmate who challenged me to examine my… Read more »
Welcome, JackSprat, and thank you for the insightful comment.
When it comes to stumbling “little children”the organisation and its leadership exhibit qualities, thoughts and actions that are diametrically opposed to the kind of qualities that Jesus was drawing attention to, when using little children as an example! One could hardly imagine the children Jesus used as an example, interacting in play demonstrating the same arrogance, judgement, pettiness, and superiority towards each other that the organisations publications and talks from the platform espouse for themselves! Besides the absurdity when specific matters are taken to the logical conclusion as presented very well in the material above, I would like to draw… Read more »
Awesome comment! And Amen
Touché! On the same note, It reminds me about the typical situation where someone “strong” tramples on a little one, and the little one is requested to put it behind/leave it in Jehovah’s hands, and most importantly, not lose faith in the org. The little one one first suffer the original blow, and then a second, when not offered full apology and justice. 1 Chor 6:7 is used extensively to prevent someone obtaining justice, and to keep things inside the control of the org/local elders. Reading 1 chor ch 6 in entirety, one see that the reason one had too… Read more »