Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 11 November 2018
Page 14

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

Please Keep Upright

Tam Raynor

I have a bulk, plastic container of dish soap with a sticker boldly requesting, “Please keep upright.” It is plainly said, implying dire consequences if the large bottle is not kept upright, which would be soap leaking over the counter, the sink and the floor. The soap company sweetly warns us against the dire consequences. They don’t need to come and to demonstrate the dire consequences to each customer. Anyone with elementary reading skills would be foolish or thoughtless not to obey the instructions!

The soap container warning has a spiritual slant. God is upright, just, sinless, faithful and perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4). David was upright and warned Solomon to be upright, too (1 Kings 3:6; 9:4). Job was upright, blameless of evil doing, and he feared God (Job 1:1, 8). Since God invented uprightness, He can instruct people about it, and His instructions are in the Bible with plenty of examples (Psalm 25:8). God doesn’t leave the dire consequences to our imagination.

He explained that if we tip over and spill our souls out over the earth, there won’t be anything left of us to get to Heaven. He, like the soap company, doesn’t have to come to each of us and demonstrate the consequences. It’s in the Bible. People who don’t keep upright are called perverted, evil, walkers in darkness, perverse, crooked and devious (Proverbs 2:6-15). God created humans upright, but we like to find ways to tip over (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Wise people seek to practice walking upright, but “unwise” people (the foolish, the thoughtless) stumble over or ignore the instructions. Paul made a list of the uprightness qualities and immediately spelled out the tipped-over qualities in Titus 1:5-16. God’s scepter is called “Uprightness,” and He rules His kingdom with it. Furthermore, He expects anyone who wants to live in Heaven to keep upright, too (Hebrews 1:8). Tipped over souls are not capable of dripping through the pearly gates. Please keep upright.

Are You a Stumbling Block?

Beth Johnson

Beth Johnson“Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:14). Most normal people would never imagine such wickedness as to cause a blind man to fall, yet they may mock him. How many times have you seen someone who ridiculed a deaf person or others who were handicapped? Some may be like the children who mocked Elisha (2 Kings 2:23-24). Was it a sin for Elisha to curse those children? We are not told, but we can read clearly, “Whoso causeth the righteous to go astray in an evil way, he shall fall himself into his own pit…” (Proverbs 28:10).

Even from Old Testament times, the way of an adulterous woman caused many to go astray. “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness” (Proverbs 30:20). “Her ways are unstable. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell” (Proverbs 5:3-5).

Many stumble because of alcohol. “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7).

Ezekiel was told to speak to warn the wicked in his way—to be a watchman for the house of Israel (Ezekiel 3:2, 3:17-19). If the people did not listen, they would die in their iniquity, but Ezekiel would not be held responsible.

Notice how many warnings there are in the New Testament against those who would cause God’s people to err! “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Luke 11:52). “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 14:13).

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14).

When Godfearing men do not lead the way, they cause the people to err [go astray] (Isaiah 3:12). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Our Heavenly Father’s punishment is meant to bring His people back, not to destroy them.

Paul told Timothy to be an example to the believers (1 Timothy 4:12); he was not encouraging him to be a bad example—but a good one! Jesus declared, “Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The way we live ought to be drawing people closer to the Lord—not pushing them away!

Many through their bad examples are causing others to stumble. This very action was going on in the days of Eli. Concerning the sons of Eli, we are informed, “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:17). Eli, hearing of the evil in which his sons were involved, rebuked them saying, “Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress” (1 Samuel 2:24). The evil doings of Eli’s sons were one of the reasons that Israel rejected God as their King, for they declared, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). We see clearly that the sons of Eli were causing the children of Israel to stumble.

How are Christians causing others to stumble today? When we do not hold firm to sound doctrine (Titus 2:1) and are not concerned with contending for the faith (Jude 3), we will cause many to stumble. Paul commanded Timothy to “take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). It is critical that all Christians be great examples of soundness and “hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). We, as God’s faithful, must proclaim truth and mark false teachers (Romans 16:17).

Still, another action that causes others to stumble is when Christians fail to practice what they preach. We can tell others all day long that the church is to be the most important thing in our lives, but if we fail to proclaim this by our daily living, it will fall on deaf ears. For example, if we tell our family, neighbors and brethren that the Word of God is the most important thing in our lives, and yet, spend little time in studying its holy pages, do we not cause others to stumble? Paul said, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and to “give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).

To tell others how important Christianity is, and yet, erratically attend appointed assemblies, do we not cause many to stumble in faithful attendance? What about the little children who see you on Sunday and look again for you at other assemblies? Do they find you? Are you setting a good example for the little ones? “But whoso shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it is profitable for him that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Many are causing others to stumble because they love to stir up trouble and will not control their tongues. Paul proclaimed, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:15). Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Brethren, we must “follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another” (Romans 14:19) and “let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Are you building up the church or tearing it down? If every member of the church were just like you, would the church be strong or near calamity? Be a good Christian example in all that you do! “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165).

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