Read Through the Bible in 2 years: Matthew 17-18
Today I wanted to put chapters 17 and 18 together because in Matthew 17:24-27 Jesus was explaining to Peter that though he was free from giving the tax since He is God’s Son, he would still pay the tax so that he would not give offense to the Jewish leaders. Then in Matthew 18:6, Jesus warns the people about causing others to sin.
“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”Matthew 17:24-27 ESV
That word “offend” in Matthew 17:27 is the same Greek word as”causes to sin” in Matthew 18:6, 8, and 9 — skandalizō.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”Matthew 18:5-9 ESV
We need to be careful how we ourselves live, because we want to honor God in all we do, but also because we don’t want to cause others to stumble. Let’s keep a careful watch over what we say and what we do, that we may be a help and not a hindrance to our brothers and sisters. This might mean limiting our freedoms.
Remember, Jesus was free from paying that temple tax because He was the Son of God, yet He paid it, so He wouldn’t cause others to stumble. Likewise, God might be calling you to not do something out of love for your weaker brother.
Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 are great passages to read for more on this topic.
Heavenly Father, thank you for all of your mercy and your grace towards me. I pray that I would pay careful attention to how I walk so that I would not cause anyone else to stumble. I pray that I would be a helping hand and not a stumbling block. Thank you for forgiving me through the blood of the lamb. Please give me your strength to do what is right. It is in the name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.