Speedstick is NOT For Running Faster!
I remember something humorous from my childhood, from when I was old enough that personal hygiene was starting to become important, around 10 or 11 years of age. I was using Speedstick deodorant or antiperspirant (I can’t really remember which of the two it was) and my brother who is nearly 5 years my junior saw it in the bathroom, and asked my parents at the dinner table about it and what it’s for.
My dad jokingly said “you put it on your feet and it helps you run faster.”
I was old enough to recognize that he was being facetious, but my brother was young enough that if one of our parents said it, then it’s true and he trusted them.
One weekend I was in the bathroom downstairs in our house, and I hear “swooshing” noises coming from the recreation room. I knew it was my brother since he was down there playing with toys or something, and I decided to go have a look and see what was going on. There, I saw him in his pyjamas, running back and forth across the room, making swooshing noises. I knew he had put the Speedstick on his feet and was running back and forth across the room to see if it worked. I asked him about it, kinda laughing (it was funny!) but gently enough because I knew he probably didn’t realize our dad was joking earlier.
Years later we all have had a good laugh about it. Of course my brother claims it didn’t happen, or if it did he doesn’t remember it. Obviously, I’ve got plenty of dumb things I myself have fallen for, but I thought this was a harmless example. Kids believe whatever you tell them — if they trust you, of course. And since generally they are very trusting and unassuming, they are impressionable.
Jesus told his disciples that if they wanted to be great in the kingdom of God, they had to become like a little child. Contrary to what many people think, He didn’t say become childish.
What are little children like?
They are trusting.
They believe what you tell them.
We are to become the same in relation to God: trusting him like a child, and that if He says something, it’s true.
What Are You Causing New Believers To Believe?
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:4-6)
If you tell a new Christian that God doesn’t heal because “it’s part of His plan to teach something“, you are responsible for having gotten them to believe a lie.
If you tell a new or impressionable believer they don’t need to speak in tongues or it’s not for today, you’re accountable for what you cause other little ones to accept as fact.
James 3:1 says not many of us should become teachers, because we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Why? Because we who teach others or have an impact on them can change the trajectory younger believers are on, for better or worse.
You might wind up causing someone to believe they can run faster if they put deodorant under their feet.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t take that lightly.
Jesus tells us it would be much better to throw ourselves into the sea with a millstone necklace, than to cause someone to veer off in the wrong direction, or miss the intended target or destination. Then he goes on to warn and say if you are easily giving in to sinful temptation, you need to cut off the offending part of your life. Take a drastic measure.
Both the consequences of causing someone else to drift in the wrong direction, and that of not dealing with sin, both result in the same extreme consequence — death. Better to enter heaven crippled and missing one measly limb than to be thrown into hell fire while perfectly physically whole.
The word Jesus used here for ‘offense’ in the Greek is skandalon. Many other instances in the New Testament translate this word as “stumbling block.” Any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, such as a stumbling block, or an occasion of stumbling. Like a rock which is a cause to trip over or have your path blocked.
Christians so easily recognize this passage as talking about causing someone to fall, but what about the more subtle understanding of just putting something in someone’s way? Like placing something in their path so big, they have to climb over it or walk around it or if they perceive it as so insurmountable, and it slows down their progress, or they give up and turn around altogether and backslide? Or that they just take much longer to get to their proper destination now that something is in the way to slow them down or stop them all together? What if we cause some kind of diversion, that prevents them from producing all the fruit the could have in their life?
Putting a stumbling block in someone’s path, or ‘scandalizing’ them, has more to do with changing someone’s trajectory than just causing them to sin. Remember unbelief is sin.
The path they’re on changes, even if slightly, because of the offense.
They detour and wind up in a completely different destination than they ought to. Because of you or I having taught them or influenced them wrong.
This is something to be sober-minded about!
Questions To Ask Yourself:
What are you responsible for causing other believers, weaker or more immature than you, to believe–whether for good or bad?
What influence are you having on others–is it for good for bad?
Are you putting stumbling blocks in others paths by your example? By bad or incorrect doctrines or teachings?
If you’ve never had the chance to listen to it, about a year ago Dave Edwards and I did a podcast discussion, rather impromptu but Spirit-led, on the subject of “Children, Keep Yourselves From Idols” (a la 1 John 5:21) Why it’s relevant to today’s post, is because we were having an epiphany that most bad belief systems, as well as addictions or problems, usually start early in life, or are a seed that gets planted early, when we’re the most impressionable.