When I was a young child I was very stubborn and well, I pushed buttons. I was one of those kids that would push a button and my mother would say, “don’t do that,” I would proceed to hold my finger over the button, not pushing it but almost pushing it. When she was not looking that’s when I did what I was not supposed to do. My poor mother. Sometimes I think it is a miracle I managed to survive into adulthood. I admit that one of my fears about having children is that my children will be like me. I was not an easy child to raise. But I made it into adulthood so my parents must have done some things right.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples I get the feeling that they were also like these little stubborn kids who Jesus was trying to spiritually raise into adulthood. When he spoke to them about temptations to sin he was extremely harsh. He was giving them a warning. Much like my mother did for me after I pushed a button, “don’t do that.” I think this warning particularly applies to leaders and people who are discipling others. God does not want his children lead astray.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” Matthew 18:7-9
When reading Jesus words it makes me stop, for this is a hard warning. In all honesty it makes me want to run for the hills and hide in a hole so that I have no temptation to sin. But I do not think this is what Jesus would want. I think he is try to bring to light an important fact in the Christian Faith. God’s grace does not give us permission to sin but it does cover us when we humbly reach out to God in repentance. I think this is an important concept. For God grace does not mean we can do anything we want with no accountability.
I go back to my childhood for when I pushed the button the first time, my mom had not told me to not to do that. Thus she gave me a warning. After the warning if I proceeded to push the button again well there were consequences. I was reprimanded. But at the end of the day my mother still love me and wanted what was best for me. Similarly if I went to my mother and told her I accidentally pushed the button she would have had more mercy on me then if she found out through other means.
My point is God’s grace is infinite and capable of covering all our sin but it does not give us permission to sin, it just covers us when we mess up and go to God as a humble child and ask for forgiveness and grace.