St. Paul, writing to ordinary church members, said: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (Corinthians 10:31-11:1 NIV).
“Follow my example,” he says. “Live the way I do. Be ready to make personal sacrifices in order to help people come over to Jesus’s side. Everything you do, religious or otherwise, must make God look good – that is, “do it all for the glory of God.”
Living for the glory of God involves both a negative (what we should not do) and a positive (what we should do). We engage in certain things and not in others based (in part) on the impact our actions will have on people who have not yet come over to Jesus’s side.
Paul states what we should not do first (verse 32): “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God.” Stumbling here and throughout the New Testament, is not just about falling down but about falling away—from God. Our attitudes, actions, and words can make it harder for people to believe in God and confess Jesus Lord. We can cause them to stumble.
I have talked to many people over the years who do not trust God and won’t even think about being involved in his church because of people who are (or were) in the church. Some church-goer did or said something that caused them to stumble away from God. Sometimes it wasn’t what they said or did; it was the attitude they held (usually the self-righteous, “better than others” attitude) that caused someone to stumble.
And sometimes, that someone who stumbled was a child and (tragically) the church-goer that caused them to stumble was a parent – a mom or dad. The combination of self-righteousness and hypocrisy in a church-going parent is almost too big an obstacle to get around.
Our attitudes and actions can make us stumbling blocks that cause people to fall away from God or they can make us steppingstones that lead people to him. Of course, being a steppingstone will sometimes mean getting walked on. We will be called on to forfeit our rights and sacrifice our time and goods so that people will come to Jesus and live for him.