Matthew 18:1-7 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Rank in the Kingdom
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!
We might think our sins affect no one but ourselves, yet that’s not true. What we do impacts others whether we know it or not. And Jesus used strong terms to warn us: He said causing another person to sin would leave us worse off than if we were “drowned in the depth of the sea” with a millstone around our neck (Matt. 18:6).
People observe what we do, and who of us is without sin? We may try to excuse ourselves by claiming that most of our sin is trivial—hardly a blip on the screen—so such small indiscretions will not be noticed by others, let alone be damaging to them. But let’s consider how some of our common sins can lead others down the wrong path.
• Our lack of forgiveness towards someone could cause a close friend or family member to take up our cause and feel resentful too.
• Anger that flares up in us at regular intervals may be copied by our children, who then think they, too, have the right to express their tempers whenever they want.
• Lies we tell to get out of tight situations send a message—especially to children—that truth is optional, depending on the circumstances.
• Conversations rife with gossip can severely damage the reputations of other people and cause listeners to sin by spreading the rumors.
The Lord’s warning should be taken seriously. We should consider the consequences of our actions and attitudes and then turn toward Jesus in confession and repentance. When we ask, He will give us the grace and strength to walk in His ways and influence others toward righteousness.