This morning, when I first opened my eyes to start the new day, the first thought that went through my head was “We don’t just live the Christian life for our own benefit. The way we live is for the benefit of the younger generation who is watching us. We need to live moral, godly lives and set an example for them so that they have something to look up to, admire, and pattern themselves after.”
Instantly, I knew this was the voice of God speaking to me. How did I know? Well, because I am in no way a morning person and usually the first thing I think every day when I wake up is never, ever something that deep. It is usually something like “What day of the week is it?” or “Is it morning already?” So to have something so heavy and deep pop into my brain so early clued me in that Someone was trying to tell me something.
As I started my morning routine of brushing my teeth and other ho hum duties, another thought went through my head. “It would be better for my men to die than to set a poor example and cause other young men to stumble and fall into sin.”
Ok, now this time I wasn’t as sure that this was the voice of God. After all God would never want to see anyone perish. The Bible says as much in 2 Peter 3 when Peter says God doesn’t want anyone to perish, but wants all to come to repentance. So why would I think God would say something so harsh?
Then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind another passage of Scripture. Let’s look at this passage in Luke 17 together.
Then Jesus said to His disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves.”
Matthew words it this way in Matthew 18: 2He (Jesus) called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them… 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Wow! What a statement Jesus made in these verses! He is basically
saying someone would be better off drowning themselves than to cause a child/teen to fall into sin because of their actions. Why do I say this is the interpretation?
First of all, I say it applies not just to children, but to young teens and adults because when I looked this passage up in commentaries, I learned that the Greek word used by Jesus implied He was speaking not only about children, but to spiritually immature believers, or those in a much earlier state in their walk with Him. A weaker Christian if you will. It basically refers to believers who are spiritually immature. So that is why it is applied to younger men, not just children.
To understand the rest of the statement, you need to know what a millstone is. A millstone was a large circular rock which was used to grind wheat and other grain into flour. The stone was turned around a shaft by either a man or by an animal such as an ox. The mills which were turned by animals were, of course, much larger than the human powered models. Barnes commentary says the Greek word used here means a large stone from an animal powered grinding mill. So it was the larger of the two kinds of millstones.
It is easy to figure out the rest. If someone had such a massive stone tied to them and then were thrown into the ocean, the weight of the massive rock would drag them to the bottom and they would drown. The Romans actually used this as a form of execution, kind of the ancient version of mobsters’ cement shoes. Jesus is saying you’d be better off dead than to cause a younger person to stumble and fall into sin. It is right there in the words of Jesus!
We as men need to read these words with fear and trembling. Why? Because the way we live doesn’t just affect us, it affects countless people around us. If I fall into sin, it doesn’t just affect my walk with God, it affects the new believer I have been influencing and discipling as He grows in His walk with God.
The model life of a man of God, the blueprint of how we should live, is to live a life of mentorship and discipleship. It was the last command Jesus gave us before He went back to His Heavenly Father. We are to go and make disciples.
Making disciples and mentoring someone else means you use your life as an example of how they should live. You are literally giving them a tour of manhood…mantour=mentor. It is our God given responsibility to live a life that younger men can observe and use as a model. They should see the way we live and then try to go even further in their walk with God than we have gone. This is God’s plan for man.
Jesus knew that, and that is why He is so harsh in His statement. He knows we’d be better off dead than living a life that is a horrible example, a life that trips up other men/teens and causes them to fall into a life of sin.
This is heavy stuff we are talking about here. It is life and death. It is something that always needs to be at the front of our minds. If it was, I think a lot less sin and compromise would occur among God’s men.
If we always remembered we have other guys watching us, would we be as willing to step into bed with someone without being married to them?
If we remembered other people are observing us, would we be willing to slip that extra money out of the company’s payroll and into our briefcase?
If we were always aware that others are looking up to us, would we be willing to risk letting our inner rage boil over on those around us?
Would we go see that movie, visit that website, or read that magazine if we knew it could result in someone else thinking it was okay to do because we did it, potentially causing them to end up in Hell because of the example we set for them?
It is like Clarence the angel told George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life… “Each man’s life touches so many others.” We have to constantly remember this and realize that we don’t just run the race set before us for our own spiritual gain, but we do it for all the young men coming up after us. Just like we look to the great cloud of witnesses, the great men of the Bible and the lives they led as an example of how we live, the next generation is looking at us to see how they need to live. We need to be giving them something worthwhile to emulate.
So, what does all this mean for our lives? I think the main thing we need to remember and apply is this: Each decision we make, each path we take, is being watched by others. Our spiritual life and walk with God is not lived in a brick fortress. Rather we live for Christ in a glass house where others can see what we do and can follow our example. We need to constantly be examining ourselves and asking ourselves if we are leaving a good example for them to follow. We need to constantly looking inside and seeing if there are areas of sin we need to deal with and conquer in our lives, not just for our own spiritual progression, but for the benefit of the next generation of God’s men who are watching us.
Jesus made it clear. We’d be better off dead than causing these young men to follow our example and get trapped in sin. We need to take these words seriously and keep them in the front of our minds at all times. No man is an island, and how we live doesn’t just affect our own lives, it influences countless other lives around us.