A couple of days ago, I went for a tiatr titled: “From darkness to light“. The tiatr was brilliant, but what caught my attention was a scene right at the end. Cyrus and Roysten were best friends in high school. During that time Cyrus had introduced his friend to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, pornography and much more. By the grace of God and with the help of numerous retreats, prayers and counselling sessions with priests, Cyrus was able to get out of his addiction. His friend however was unable to change, even though many sought to help him. His health kept deteriorating and ultimately he died.
How often in life do we see such situations? We may fall into sin repeatedly, but through prayer, retreats and so on, we are able to overcome our addictions. During the course of our addictions, we tend to adversely affect the lives of many people by introducing them to the same sin or encouraging them to partake in the sin with us. It is akin to one rotten apple spoiling the others in the basket. You can remove the rotten apple, but unless removed in time, the damage caused is irreversible.
Many of us have been responsible in some way or the other in leading others astray. We have become stumbling blocks to them and often, have taken them away from the faith.
Jesus does not mince words when he says,
“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)
A stumbling block is an obstacle to our progress in the Lord; it’s something that gets in between us and God’s perfect plan for our lives; it is anything that leads us into temptation. It’s a snare. Strong’s Concordance defines a stumbling block as “any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin.“
So how are we stumbling blocks to others?
- Through our speech:
We use foul language or crack perverted jokes with our friends. We thus lead people away from Christ and closer to the devil.
As St. John Bosco said,
“Let each one who indulges in foul conversation say to himself: I am a minister of Satan because I help him ruin souls.”
- Through our dress:
Many girls wear skimpy, figure hugging or revealing clothes whether in church or outside it.
While women may feel it is none of anyone’s business, how they dress, St. John Paul the Great begs to differ,
“The purpose of modesty is not merely to help prevent men from stumbling into impure thoughts. Modesty of dress is primarily meant to protect the woman herself. It helps keep the woman from being treated as an object for sexual pleasure.”
St. John Paul further explains,
“Since a woman does not find in herself the sensuality of which a man as a rule cannot but be aware in himself, she does not feel so great a need to conceal ‘the body as a potential object of enjoyment.‘”
Consequently, women often don’t realize the way they are dressing may be setting themselves up to be viewed by a man as a mere object for sexual pleasure. “Very often, a woman does not regard a particular way of dressing as shameless…although some man, or indeed many men, may find it so“
- Through our eating habits:
We eat and drink excessively when we are out with friends. Gluttony is a sign that we are full of lust and cannot deny ourselves even food.
It is almost certain that excess in eating is the cause of almost all the diseases of the body, but its effects on the soul are even more disastrous.
~ St. Alphonsus Liguori
Our faith is all about the cross and self sacrifice. As St. Richard of Chichester writes,
“Satisfaction consists in the cutting off of the causes of the sin. Thus, fasting is the proper antidote to lust; prayer to pride, to envy, anger and sloth; alms to covetousness.”
- Abetting the wrong of another:
So often, just to remain in the good books of our friends, we do not attempt to correct or bring to light their wrong doing. We thus continue aiding our friends in leading others astray.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
~ Ephesians 5:11
- Through our actions in general:
We portray ourselves to be very pious and holy in church but outside we are full of anger, pride, jealousy, hatred and much more.
If we have everything but have no love, how can we say we follow Christ? ~ 1 Corinthians 13:2
We are then leading people away, rather than towards Christ.
Being a stumbling block to others through the way we live our life is definitely not acceptable.
Often, we fail to realise that we are causing others to sin. It is therefore necessary to constantly seek the Lord through prayer and adoration and constantly ask Jesus if the way we live our life is pleasing to Him. We also need to have a close friend who can correct us from time to time if we are becoming a stumbling block to others.
Today the world needs role models. It has plenty of people telling them how to do everything but in the wrong manner. We are taught that wearing less clothes means we are more attractive, smoking, getting drunk and using perverted language makes us cool; abusing, hitting and bullying others makes us a man.
Unfortunately we have believed the lie and in the process, not only have we stumbled, but we have caused others to fall along with us.
Like there are two sides to a coin, we must realise that, while people may introduce temptations (stumbling blocks) into our lives, the responsibility to walk in righteousness by the grace of God falls squarely on our own shoulders. God may indeed deal with the one who introduces the stumbling block, whether it be a spirit of error or some form of lust—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life—but the burden remains on us to discern, confront and press past that stumbling block no matter who introduces it and no matter what it is.
May we all strive to do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining and living the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)