Scripture: Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” Acts 15:5 NIV
Scripture: He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? Acts 15:9,10 NIV
Observation: Paul and Barnabas discuss with the Jewish leaders whether or not the Gentiles should be required to be circumcised. It is decided that by requiring the Gentiles to be circumcised they would be demanding them to fulfill a need that they, themselves, could not uphold.
Application: This is an interesting set of passages when read with Acts 16:3, “Paul wanted to take him (Timothy) along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.” Acts 16:3 NIV Why? Why would Paul argue against circumcision in Acts 15 and then circumcise Timothy before they left on their missionary journey? I believe that he did it so that the uncircumcised Timothy wouldn’t be a “stumbling block” to the very people to whom they were going to minister. Certainly circumcision isn’t necessary for salvation but I really don’t think that circumcision was even the issue to Paul. The issue was winning souls. If the fact that Timothy wasn’t circumcised was going to close the ears of those to whom Paul was going to minister–then Timothy was going to be circumcised. We should learn from Paul. Our actions and inactions can and will affect people. We must take care to guard our speech, control our emotions and attitude, and be careful with our choices. We must care that what we think, say, and do can hinder our witness to others. Otherwise, we will become a “stumbling block.”
Prayer: Lord, don’t allow me to be a “stumbling block” to others. I know that my behavior and what I say can harm my witness to others. Amen
2 Replies to “Don’t be a Stumbling Block”
I like what you are learning and will be visiting this blog more. Please note one thing though, winning souls is not a function of the called or called out, in this age. GOD Only can Do The Winning and Saving.
We are to be Like: light and salt, to the world, light and salt only Shine and Season. Neither makes a sound while doing the work they are designed to do.
George is right in some ways; yet the scripture does clearly teach us to proclaim the Gospel! As your sidebar quote from Romans 10:17 suggests, hearing the Gospel is one of the ways through which God brings souls to salvation.
Regarding Paul’s response to circumcision, I agree with what you have said. As to why it was acceptable for Timothy but not later, the key is that with Timothy it was a voluntary action to make him more acceptable to those who were still essentially Jews, whereas later it was being put forwards as a requirement for those who were now Christians.
In the same way, a missionary today might reasonably and profitably refrain from drinking alcohol whilst preaching to Muslim communities, yet it would be wrong to then state that Christians should be told they are forbidden from drinking alcohol.
Note however there are limits even to this concept, e.g. refraining from expressing the divinity of Christ would usually be neither reasonable nor profitable when witnessing to Muslim communities. You find Paul emphasising this point amongst Jews where to do so was a much greater offence than to bring an uncircumcised man amongst them, and then barely mentioning it when talking to the Gentiles.