TITLE: Millstone 6/20/15
By Pat Small
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I don’t know what I thought a millstone was. Truthfully, I don’t think I really gave it much thought. I just sort of skimmed over it when I read it, assuming it was some sort of big rock but really of minor significance to me.
Meandering through the Botannical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro we happened upon a millstone. You could have seen my jaw hit the pavement if you had been there. I was shocked at the mammoth size. Gazing at the objects, I considered the words of Jesus, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).
Doing a little research later,I discovered that a millstone could weigh between 100 and 1000 pounds, depending on who or what might be turning it. Smaller ones were turned by women to grind food for cooking. Larger ones were turned by animals or machinery. Even the smaller ones ould
be sufficient to cause a person to sink and drown, or perhaps be strangled by the pressure around the neck. It would not be a good way to leave this world. And that seems to be Jesus’s point here as He warns against offending a child, or a newborn Christian who is sometimes compared to a child.
Beyond the physical agony of such a death, one would do well to remember the Judgment Seat
of Christ where that sin will be remembered. In the book of Acts we read, “…for we receive the due reward of our deeds…”(Luke 23:41). Easiest thing would be to monitor our words and actions,
making sure we do not offend one of these little ones, thereby avoiding the painful consequences.
And so we might wonder: how do I offend a new believer, or a small child? I don’t teach
children anymore, so I have very little contact with children. But you may have grandchildren. If so, do you feel Impatient with their exhuberance while you are trying to watch tv or talk with your own children? Do you give irritated glances to the children running in the halls at church when you think they should Be more respectful? You may not say anything, but so often that cool attitude seems to transmit itself across a room and be sensed by tender hearts.
New believers are another thing. It’s easy to look with disdain at their immodest dress, or their slangy conversation that borders on blasphemy. There are kind ways to bring their attention to things that may never have occurred to them. Judgmental platitudes won’t cut it.
Or perhaps you, being the super-spiritual older believers, feel that you can go places and do things that a weaker Christian can’t. Perhaps you can, but perhaps you shouldn’t. Witnessing those acts could cause someone to stumble. Are they too important to you to be forsaken for the benefit of someone else?
When we were new believers, a sweet family temporarily adopted us until the military sent us In opposite directions. She would stand over our baby in his carriage and talk to him, telling him things she really wanted us to know. But certainly we could not be offended when she was smiling sweetly at our precious baby and chucking him under the chin.
Certainly there are other ways that we can counsel a new believer without becoming a
stumblingblock to them. We can have them in our home so they see the way a Christian family
relates. Young friends of ours in Brasil have a unique way of doing this. A beach is the preferred recreational spot, so they organize weekend retreats where they invite two or three solid Christian families and a family they sense is having difficulties. Without saying a “preaching word” they are able to teach their friends by example.
As for children, we can give them a reward they didn’t know they were trying to obtain. We might say, “I noticed how quietly you sat in class today, and I just wanted to thank you for respecting God’s house,” as we hand them a candy bar or a new box of crayons, some small trinket, or maybe just an extra warm hug.
I’m sure if we ask God about it, He will be more than happy to bring thoughts to our minds
that we can follow up on, in ways that will be a blessing and a teaching moment without becoming
obnoxious, judgmental, irritating older believers.
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