A Stumbling Block? by Randy Rowley 6/10/19 ©


On a Saturday in mid-September my SUV croaked about 100 feet from a clinic in East Austin.  Fortunately I was able to push it into the parking lot.  The next afternoon I waited on a wrecker to come get my SUV.  As I waited, I listened to shotguns blasting in the distance.  After the wrecker left I drove over and found the source of the noise.  On Exchange Blvd. I saw seven parked vehicles and at least 20 hunters in a field who were shooting at dove.

When I got home I called the police to report people hunting in the city limits.  However, the officer informed me that Exchange Blvd. was the city limit.  The field (which was on the west side of the street) was outside of the city limits.  I verified this information with a Travis County sheriff’s deputy, who informed me that the Hardin Corporation owned the field and they allowed people to hunt there without written permission.

I related the story to Bill Smith and we agreed to give the field a try.  We hunted there the next Saturday afternoon, but only bagged one bird.  We tried a morning hunt the next Saturday without much improvement.  Believing that the dove had moved on I forgot about the field.  However, a few days later Bill told me that he had gone to the field on a solo morning hunt and bagged seven birds.  We made plans to hunt there again the next Saturday morning.

That October day started out cool.  As we waited in the field for legal shooting time a pickup drove by slowly and then sped away.  A short time later it returned from the opposite direction and hit a curb before it sped away.  Thinking that we had seen an early morning drunk, we paid it no mind.

Finally it was legal shooting time.  For about ten minutes the action was furious, but then it died down.

During the break in the action I heard a vehicle driving down the road, turned and saw an Austin police cruiser slowing down.  I tried to alert Bill who was 75 yards away of this development, but he was blasting away at a large flock of dove that were flying towards him.  They were followed by a flock of at least 20 birds that flew directly over me.  However, I didn’t shoot as I didn’t want the officer to see me shooting, if the officer and deputy that I had talked to had been wrong about the field not being in the city limits.

Immediately after the flock flew over me we heard a woman shout; “Gentlemen put your guns down, put your hands up where I can see them, and come over here!”  We put our guns down, raised our hands, turned, and discovered the source of the command – a police officer had positioned herself behind her cruiser and had her hand on her service revolver, but had not drawn it.  Bill and I walked quietly over to her.

Instructing us to keep our hands up, she asked what we were doing there and why we thought we could hunt in the city.  While she was questioning us, she was joined by a second officer and the driver of the truck – who was a Roadway security guard.  Our presence had scared the guard as he drove by and he had called the police.

We answered her questions politely.  The officers checked our story out and found it to be accurate.  The security guard said that we had shot Roadway vehicles and employees a week before during the evening.  I responded that we were hunting in the opposite direction, as the first officer saw when she arrived, Roadway was out of the range of our shotguns, and that we had not hunted there that evening.  The officers told us that although we were not doing anything illegal we could be charged with being public nuisances and that maybe we should find somewhere not so close to a business to hunt.  Relieved that we were not going to jail, we did not argue the point, packed up and left.

I decided to not mention possibly returning to Bill, as I did not want to be a source of temptation or a stumbling block to him.  (We couldn’t return now, even if we wanted to, as several businesses are now located on where the field used to be.)

1 Corinthians 8:9-13 says, “Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.  For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols?  So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge.  When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.  Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

Paul was addressing a specific issue that the Corinthian church was having – some Christians were eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.  Other believers had a problem with this.  Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 8:4-8 that idols were not competing with God because there is no other God other than him.

The Corinthian Christians who were eating meat at pagan temples based their practices on correct doctrine (idols had no significance), but not all of the Corinthian believers understood this.  Paul’s response was to ask the Corinthian Christians who knew there was nothing to idols to remember that not all believers knew that and that if a believer who formerly had a background of worshipping idols were to see them eat such meat and then they also partook they would have been acting against their consciences, as they thought that eating food offered to idols was akin to idol worship.

Paul implored the more knowledgeable believers to consider the rights of their weaker/less knowledgeable brothers in Christ.  By exercising their right to eat such meat they were becoming a stumbling block to those who didn’t and by ignoring that fact they were offending Jesus.  He makes it clear that our actions must never be based only on what we know is right – we also will have to give an account for how we treated fellow believers.

Paul also addressed legalism in Galatians 2:1-21.  He wrote that in Antioch Peter was forcing Gentiles to follow Jewish customs and laws, in order to be justified.  Paul confronted and sharply rebuked Peter about his legalism.  Even if Jewish Christians had told these Gentile Christians that their disobeying their Jewish customs and laws was causing them to stumble, Paul would have told them that they weren’t being tempted to sin; rather it was their legalism that was being offended.  Paul didn’t care at all about offending legalism, and neither should we.

Today we see legalism in many forms.  Examples include:

  • You shouldn’t buy that expensive gun, go hunting in Africa, or wear that fishing shirt to church.
  • You shouldn’t go to the watch the new Star Wars movie, listen to country music, or allow your kids to read Harry Potter.
  • You shouldn’t eat steak, get a tattoo, or go to the rodeo.
  • You shouldn’t have FCS co-ed events – it’s a men’s club.

Why?  Because you might cause someone who thinks that it’s wrong to stumble.  You wouldn’t want to cause them to stumble, now would you?

Unfortunately such exchanges between Christians occur too often.  We don’t do certain things because we’re scared that we might become a stumbling block.  Or we tell other believers to not to do particular things that the Bible doesn’t discuss, because they might become a stumbling block to other believers.

We must realize that doing things others think is wrong that are not clearly described in the Bible as sin doesn’t make us a stumbling block.  Certainly, if we are in sin then we must confess our sin and turn from it (see 1 John 1:9).  But I’m talking about gray areas here and not sin.  If I do something that’s clearly not a sin, and Christians who are legalistic have a problem with it, I’m not being a stumbling block to them.

Expanding on the previous wearing a fishing shirt in church example, for most occasions I have no problem wearing casual clothes to my church, as I see it as a more authentic approach to God and there is no record that Jesus wore fancy clothes when he went to a synagogue.  However, you are convinced that wearing casual clothes to church displays an irreverent attitude toward God.  But no matter how fervently you search the Bible you can’t find where God entered the debate.  Do I have to stop wearing casual clothes because you think I am doing something wrong?  No, the Bible doesn’t forbid casual clothes.  If my behavior causes you to judge me, that’s not creating a stumbling block.  I’m not tempted you to sin.  It’s your legalism that is being offended and you need to address that with God.

If you’re ever concerned that you might be a stumbling block, honestly and prayerfully examine the charge.  If it’s true, repent and stop what you’re doing, at least in that person’s presence.  If not, stay the course.

Categories : Devotionals

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Bible verse of the day

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him — his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Today’s Devotionals and Blogs

Kent Crockett’s blog – www.kentcrockett.blogspot.com

Mark Dillow’s blog – http://noclearline.blogspot.com/