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!” (Matthew 18:6–7, NASB95)
A stumbling block (Gr. skandalon) is a “trap-stick” (G4625). It is “the moveable stick or tricker (“trigger”) of a trap” (Thayer, 577). Thus, a stumbling block is “any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall” (Thayer). It is an enticement to sin. Jesus warned against becoming the “cause” (stumbling block, v. 6) that lures and captures another person in sin. We must not entice others to sin. Solomon warned his son to avoid the enticements of sinners (Prov. 1:10). But today’s passage warns against becoming the enticer of others. The apostle Paul explained that even a sinless act (like eating meat previously dedicated to an idol) becomes a stumbling block when it leads the weak in conscience (toward eating such meat) to eat in violation of his scruple (1 Cor. 8:4-13). Being a stumbling block is a “sin against the brethren” and a “sin against Christ” (1 Cor. 8:12). Therefore, Paul would forego his liberty to eat meat to avoid being a stumbling block (1 Cor. 8:13). Jesus said the punishment for being a stumbling block is worse than being drowned in the sea (Matt. 18:7). Woeful punishment awaits those who are impediments to righteousness and enticements to sin (Matt. 18:7). Love does not harm a neighbor (Rom. 13:10). Therefore, love carefully avoids becoming the cause of someone else’s sin (Rom. 13:8).
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26, NKJV)
The world hates those who follow Jesus. If you think that language is too strong, please recall it is Jesus who said it: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). Everyone who practices evil hates the light of truth because it exposes their sin (John 3:19-20). When you obey truth its light shines brightly, and the world of darkness hates you for it (John 3:21). Those practicing sin will speak evil of you for not joining them in their sins (1 Peter 4:4, 12-14). If you are more concerned with what people think about you than with what the Lord thinks of you, then you fall under the “woe” Jesus pronounced in today’s verse. People will speak well of you when they know your life and words will not expose their sins. If that is the case, then you are not being the light of the world (Matthew 5:16). “Take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness” (Luke 11:35). Resolve to please God, no matter what people say about you (Galatians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 5:9).
24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:24–26, NKJV)
Jesus announced denunciations upon those who are carnal, who live for themselves instead of God. Wealth is not evil – it is the love of money that brings sin and sorrow (1 Tim. 6:9-10). When your goal is wealth, the fleeting comfort it gives is your reward. Material possessions may satisfy you for a while, but physical fullness does not enrich your soul. Although laughter is good medicine, one cannot build a life upon frivolity. Sorrow and sadness will occur when one refuses to be sober-minded. Yearning for the praise of men leads to compromise for the sake of popularity. The false prophets of the Old Testament were popular among men, but, they were not popular with God. He rejected them. Each of these denunciations have something in common: They result when one loves this world rather than the will of God. Carnality brings destruction, while a life of faith assures God’s spiritual blessings. The beatitudes (which appear just before these pronouncements of woe) affirm this to be so (Luke 6:20-23). Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all you need in life will be provided. Furthermore, you will be laying up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:33, 19-21).
6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (Matthew 18:6–7)
Our words and actions affect others. With a life of faith you can positively impact others (Matt. 5:14-16). But, also see in this verse that Jesus said it is possible for you to cause others to sin. Sin is never isolated; it has an evil, debilitating influence. Here, a Christian may set a snare before other believers and thereby helping them to sin. Christ delivers a divine denunciation (“woe”) on the disciple who leads a believer into sin. We expect unbelievers to set stumbling blocks before us. But, a Christian should never lay a snare before another believer. We must be careful to help one another be faithful to the Lord instead of helping each other sin against Him.