Previously in Matthew 18 Jesus was asked who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus’ answer is the one who is like a child. His response shifts to include this warning. We should not cause anyone, especially a child or a new believer to stumble, to fall in their faith.
Leadership is a great responsibility. I remember a young man in multi-housing ministry who was behaving but I noticed that other kids would try to impress him by misbehaving around him. I sensed this young man may have been involved in gang activity. I pulled him aside to make him aware of his leadership qualities and also to explain that as a leader we are accountable for where we lead people: towards God or away from God. We implemented a strategy to isolate him from the other students and everyone behaved better. Within the next few years this young man totally changed his social circle and received an award at school for making great improvements!
Jesus said some harsh, brave things. I take this warning seriously and should live my life in such a way that I’m leading others towards God. For example, it’s not a sin to have a drink. Drunkenness is a sin. I don’t even know who around me might struggle with this right now or who’s had a problem with this in the past, so I choose not to drink alcohol. As a leader I do not wish for someone to look at my life and say, “well, Jeni does it , so it must be ok.” I’m not perfect and I certainly have my shortcomings, but I must try my best to lead others towards good and not into sin.
As a foster parent I heard stories of parents leading their kids down dangerous, traumatic roads. Many of these children will be scarred for life. It will take them years to heal from being ravaged by the sins of their parents. Even if justice doesn’t come in this life, it will roll down like waters one day. Revenge is of the Lord. I do not have to worry about taking matters into my own hands.
I want to lead people towards God, towards good, towards freedom and love. The only way to do this is to follow God with all I am.