In Acts 20:24, Paul says, “…But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself…in order that I may finish my course.”
What an incredible attitude. In verse 24 Paul stated the reason he was willing to face the dangers in Jerusalem. He was ready to surrender his life for the gospel. In his epistles Paul often stated his readiness to suffer, even to die for Christ. Paul had completely given his life to Christ. He was willing to die for what he believed. Are we? As ministers we should believe in the word of God so much that we are willing to give our lives for it. What are our lives to us? How much do they mean to us? Do we care so much about our lives that we are willing to preserve them over preserving the word? Those are a lot of questions, but there’s one simple fact that we must remember. A preacher that is not willing to give his life for the cause of Christ is not worthy to preach.
God’s church, the Bride of Christ, deserves a man willing to lay down his life for the gospel. When Jesus came to Paul on the road to Damascus, He gave Paul his life’s mission. By the grace of God, Paul completed a lifelong service to Him. As ministers, there is not a better life to model ours after, besides Jesus, than the life of Paul. He was selfless to the very end. His body was a mere tool just for the cause of Christ. What does that take? A lifetime of studying and growing our relationship with the Lord. A man with a poor or lacking relationship with God does not belong in the pulpit.
From the book of Acts we can pull many examples from Paul’s life and apply them to that of the modern day minister. The Bible is 1900 years old, but it is still a practical guide to today’s preachers. We have different challenges that may seem like new issues, but Paul proves over and over again that following Christ wholeheartedly is all we truly need to make it as successful ministers in the church today. Who does the church see in the pulpit? Who does the church need in the pulpit? These are often two very different things. The preacher can act one way in front of everyone, but who he is when he’s alone is what counts. Does he study and pray constantly? A minister should follow closely the example of Paul, and in doing so he will not fail. If every church had a preacher like Paul the church would be a strong and thriving group.
Acts 20:22-24 says, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
From these verses we understand that the local preacher must learn to trust in the Lord to take care of them no matter what happens in their ministry. We read here of Paul and the affliction and imprisonment he faced in every city. Paul had his priorities in order, he did not wish to save his life, but to lose it for Christ (Matthew 10:39; Galatians 2:20). As a local preacher we may face trials in our ministries, but if there is a trust in the Lord to get you through, then there is always hope.
Notice that Paul says, “Not knowing what will happen to me there…” Another quality we must have as preachers is that we must fully rely on God. Even when we don’t know what will happen to us. Applying this practically, we should rely on God even when we don’t know where our next paycheck is coming from. We must rely on God when we travel overseas to foreign countries. Many in the world react harshly to Christianity and we may not know how they will receive us. Do we trust in God when the world hates us? How will the members of the congregation act when they see a man who puts that much trust in God? It will inspire them to do the same thing. Their trust in God will grow through our example.
There were times in Paul’s life when he had no idea what the outcome would be. Sometimes he did not even know whether or not he would die, but he kept on in the service of the Lord regardless of his circumstances. That is faith, and that is the kind of faith we need as ministers for the church in the 21st century. We serve a God that promises a great reward if we live a faithful life, so there is no reason why we shouldn’t trust in Him the way Paul did.
We also learn from verse 24 that the local preacher must put the Word of God first in life. By doing this, the most important piece of life is given the attention that it needs. Many ministries fail because of a lack of putting God’s Word first. We could never help a local church the way it should be helped without God’s Word. Also, ministers must not fret over the physical. Being so focused on what could happen, or what has happened could cause a train wreck for both the preacher and the congregation. Many ministers are focused on what people want to hear rather than what they need to hear. From reading the writings of Paul we can see that he preached and taught some very difficult topics. As preachers today we need to preach an unadulterated gospel. We should teach those hard topics. We should teach even when we may be the only one willing to stand by the scriptures.
A congregation must feel some growing pains in order to be strengthened. They need to hear the hard lessons and as preachers we need to be preaching to ourselves as well. When we study the Bible, we should be applying the lessons to our lives first. People will not listen to a preacher who is not living what he is preaching.
In Matthew 15:14, Jesus said, “If the blind lead the blind both will end up falling in a pit.” Moses taught Joshua and Joshua knew what to do, but now Joshua would have to go without Moses. Joshua could still be a successful leader without Moses being with him, as long as he followed the way Moses set for him. I have three points to share with you today.
The first one is that God was with him. In Joshua 1, towards the end of verse 5, God said as he was with Moses he will always be with Joshua. Let’s say you just started a new job and have no idea what you’re doing. Your boss is never there and your coworkers don’t know what to do either. The job wouldn’t be a good job and you would be very unsuccessful. Joshua had to remember that God was with him because he had seen all the things that Moses had done when God was with Moses. Just as Moses had done, Joshua could do the same things with God by his side. In Matthew 28:20, just like with Joshua, God promises to be with us.
The second point is that Joshua had to be strong and courageous. According to Webster’s dictionary, courage means the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., with firmness and without fear. On your job during the week you go through pain but you know what’s coming at the end of it so you go through anything to get that paycheck. Going back to the first point, God was with Joshua. Joshua should have had no fear because God was with him. Joshua 1:6-7 says “Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause these people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” What we need to do is be like Joshua and learn from our parents or even other people in the congregation so that we can not only learn to do what is commanded but what we need to teach others. Joshua was not the only one who needed to be strong and courageous, we all do. Tom staltman is the world’s strongest man. He’s pretty strong but no one can match the strength of Christian’s if we follow God’s word.
The last point is that Joshua had to read the word of God regularly and stick with it. The reason he had to read and memorize the word was so that he could faithfully lead God’s people in the right direction. Joshua 1:7-8 says, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
If we read the word of God and meditate on it and remember it, we will be very successful in all that we do. I would like to end this point by reading a couple of passages. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.“ And the other passage is Matthew 4:4, where Jesus answered, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
In Joshua 1, I would say the theme is obedience to God and his law. It is mentioned in verse 8 of the chapter that if we make our way prosperous we will be successful in all that we do.
The election is over – or is it? Some states are still counting ballots as of this writing. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change our responsibility to those God’s Providence has placed into leadership over us. One needs to remember several things about government. First, God “changes the times and the periods; He removes kings and appoints kings….” (Daniel 2.21 NASB). As Nebuchadnezzar testified, “the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and He grants it to whomever He wishes” (Daniel 4.17 NASB). Second, God gave them the authority to punish the evildoer (Romans 13.1-7). Thus, they have a heavenly mandate. Third, we must give them what they are due: taxes (Matthew 22.15-22). Fourth, we must lift their names to the Heavenly Father (1 Timothy 2.1-3). Finally, we must give them honor (1 Peter 2.17).
In addition to these five principles, Solomon suggests ways to interact with those who would rule over us wisely. I will present them in their order of appearance in the book of Proverbs.
Never put a leader in a bad light; doing so would be detrimental to both of you. While we have a constitutional right to criticize because the First Amendment protects it, that doesn’t mean we have to or should.
“The king’s favor is toward a servant who acts wisely, but his anger is toward him who acts shamefully” (Proverbs 14.35 NASB).
This reminder holds more weight for someone who works directly for the leader, but it’s still a principle to which we should all adhere. A leader can make our lives difficult, whether his reasoning is justified or motivated by vanity. Of course, we can address such issues at the ballot box, but in the meantime, we must act prudently.
Don’t be a “yes-man.” When we addressed leaders last week, we included advice on “yes-men.” Indeed, a leader should not surround himself with such sycophants. But we should not try to appease our leaders by becoming the “yes-men” that the Bible condemns.
“Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and one who speaks right is loved” (Proverbs 16.13 NASB).
While taking care not to contradict the first point above, we should still righteously speak when asked. A leader who is worth his salt appreciates a truthful constituent.
Leaders prefer those who can articulate their morals. The idea is that a leader will discover in you a deserving individual to offer advice when he needs it.
“One who loves purity of heart and whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend” (Proverbs 22.11 NASB).
Set yourself apart with your skills. In the years following the upheaval of the Civil War, African Americans continued to confront discrimination and repression, making progress toward their goals challenging. As a result, different perspectives on the way forward emerged. As a result of one such way of thinking, NAACP founder W.E.B. Dubois established an organization to promote the advancement of African Americans. Alternatively, Booker T. Washington opened the Tuskegee Institute to appeal to a competing viewpoint among members within the black community.
Washington believed that if blacks possessed a necessary skill that made them an indispensable part of the community, prejudiced whites in the South would accept them as peers, even if reluctantly. I’m not here to argue which of these men was correct, but I will say that Solomon would have likely supported the latter. Solomon saw one’s trade as a way to distinguish himself and attract the attention of kings.
“Do you see a person skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure people” (Proverbs 22.29 NASB).
The best way to get the attention of a captain of industry or the President of the United States is to develop a skill to make your presence necessary. It will prevent you from living an ordinary life.
Exercise restraint when in their presence. Sitting down to dine with a world leader would be exciting, especially if you eat at their expense. However, you may make a terrible impression if you are not self-disciplined. I understand that it is unlikely that any of us will be dining with the king, but we might get an invite from our boss. The principle is the same.
“When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, And put a knife to your throat if you are a person of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food” (Proverbs 23.1-3 NASB).
I read a legend (as Snopes refers to it) about an employer who conducted job interviews over dinner. This employer evaluated applicants on whether they added salt to food without tasting it to determine if it was necessary. The reasoning is that it shows impulsiveness and a failure to analyze data before deciding. Furthermore, it is impolite to your host because it implies that you do not trust his dining establishment preferences.
The bottom line is that whether a king or a boss, no one likes someone who will run up expense accounts and exercise no self-control.
Be humble. Solomon’s advice was undoubtedly the source of our Lord’s future warning in Luke 14.7-11 against seeking the chief seats. If your host wishes to seat someone else in your chair, you will be embarrassed. So instead, find a secluded spot and wait for the host to invite you to the guest of honor table.
“Do not boast in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the same place as great people; For it is better that it be said to you, ‘Come up here,’ Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen” (Proverbs 25.6-7 NASB).
The reason that leaders like the humble are because they are typically better team players. The humble also learn from their mistakes. And best of all, the humble lead by example. As the Chinese say, “Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow.”
Be Persistent. Some commentators believe that Jesus was thinking of our last proverb when He gave the parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke 18.1-8. At least, brother Burton Coffman noted that in the 1901 American Standard Version, the translators felt they could substitute the word judge for the word ruler in Proverbs 25.15.
“Through patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks bone” (NASB).
It would be impolite to refer to the woman about whom Jesus spoke as a nag, but she did so tire the unjust judge with her numerous inquiries that the judge eventually tipped the scales of justice in her favor. We think of using violence to persuade others, but the truth is that pleading with them can be just as effective. When we require our elected officials’ assistance, anger is not an appealing method of obtaining it. It is preferable to use a gentle tongue to break their bones through persistent questioning and insistence that they hear our plight.
I chose these Scriptures because they all dealt with subjects who had dealings with the king or ruler. However, I believe we can see how they apply to other relationships in which one person is of a lower station than the other. Remember what another wise man said to my grandfather Pollard years ago about our newly elected leaders: “Democrat or Republican, I still have to go to work.” Indeed, we all have a responsibility to those who exercise authority over us, and we can also treat them properly to endear ourselves to them.
The majestic Lipizzan horse is a sight to behold. One of its dressage gaits is called the levade. If you’ve seen a horse in a heraldic setting, you’ve likely seen something akin to this pose. The horse raises and draws in its forelegs, balancing its bodyweight on its bent hind legs. Lipizzaners are relatively few today, with about 3,000 of them in the world. However, owners prize them for their docile and highly obedient natures. These characteristics are something I wish to emphasize as I consider Jesus’ appeal for us to be “meek” or “gentle” (Matthew 5.5).
The history of the Lipizzan breed goes back to around 800 A.D. Muslims invaded the Iberian peninsula and brought their Arabian and Berber horses with them. The Muslims bred their Arabians and Berbers with local Spanish horse breeds. One of the resulting horse breeds was the Andalusian. Fast forward to the late 1500s, and you find Archduke Charles II establishing a stud in Lipizza, Austria, known today as Lilica. He bred this Andalusian with Arabian, Berber, Baroque, and the now-extinct Neapolitan horses. The horses produced in Lipizza were equally at home on the battlefield and in aristocratic riding venues.
In the same latter half of the sixteenth century, the Spanish Riding School began in Vienna. This school has trained these Austrian bred horses for over 450 years using the classical dressage, which the Greek, Xenophon, described. And that is the glue that brings this entire discourse together. Xenophon referred to properly trained horses, ready for battle, as praus. That is the Greek word used by Jesus in Matthew 5.5. So, if you want to see a horse that has been meeked, look at the Lipizzaner during its performance.
Interestingly, with time’s passage, meekness has been equated to weakness or timidity. Surely weakness or timidity would not be a mindset needed for those wishing to enter the Kingdom. If a horse acted as the modern conception of that word, it would be useless. Is this desirable trait watered down due to its probable source of Psalm 37.11? David wrote: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace” (KJV).
Newer translations of that passage, like the NASB1995, will substitute “humility” for the word meek. However, if you look to the original Hebrew, the term employed is anav. The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon suggests that within this context, anav means “poor, weak, and afflicted Israel.”1 If you read the entire thirty-seventh Psalm, you note that David describes the destruction of evildoers, which creates a void to be filled by the anav (meek or humble) persons (Psalm 37.7-11).
The problem with bringing David’s meaning to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the Septuagint would have likely influenced Matthew as he recorded the words of our Lord, and it uses praus. Of course, it may be that Jesus quoted the Septuagint, too. Christ seems to do so on several occasions. As Koine Greek was the lingua franca, why wouldn’t He use the Septuagint in His public teaching? Ultimately, it matters little whether Jesus quoted from the Masoretic Text or the Septuagint since we must deal with the Greek in which the Holy Spirit wrote it for you and me today.
As a quick aside, the church or Kingdom is not an institution that Jesus’ meek will be inheriting from defeated evildoers, as were David’s meek. Instead, Jesus built this institution Himself and now adds the saved to it (Acts 2.47). These saved may be sin-weary and spiritually afflicted upon entry (cf. Matthew 11.28-30), but Jesus adds them to a spotless church without blemish (Ephesians 5.27). Even if Psalm 37.11 was in the mind of our Lord when He preached, He made an entirely different application of it centered on the idea of the “meeked man.”
Aristotle said that a meek man was one remaining between the extremes of cowardice and recklessness. In other words, a courageous man. 2 That takes us back to Xenophon and our Lipizzaners, the descendants of the Greek war-horse. What kind of a horse would Alexander the Great ride to glory on the battlefield? We know because historians have written much about him. The horse’s name was Bucephalus. Plutarch said Alexander perceived that Bucephalus was spooked by his own shadow and so situated the animal to face away from his source of fear. 3 No man could ride Bucephalus but Alexander. Alexander brought Bucephalus’ power under control. Following the body of knowledge passed down by such men as Xenophon, young Alexander meeked Bucephalus.
So, what virtue was Jesus urging us to adopt? Naturally, we cannot physically become Lipizzaners. Still, we can discipline ourselves to become docile (i.e., ready to receive instruction) and highly obedient (i.e., willing to carry out those orders) as that magnificent horse. As such, we are equally as fit for service in the war against Satan as being a Barnabas to fellow Christians. Hence, a meeked Christian is far from poor and weak. He knows who holds his reins. As such, he enjoys what is his and what the Lord has promised him. Doesn’t that make you want to be like the Lipizzaner too?
When it comes to storms, people either love them or hate them. Personally I find storms to be relaxing. I love hearing the lighting and thunder rumble and shake the house. Some people are deathly afraid of storms and for good reason. If a storm is violent enough, it can end up costing millions of dollars in damage. Storms are a majestic show of God’s power. Did you know that a single bolt of lighting contains up to one billion volts of electricity? That’s enough electricity to power 56 houses for 24 hours straight…from a single strike! It can generate temperatures six times hotter than the surface of the sun. Storms are majestic, but also can be terrifying. I want to take a brief look at a well-known account in scripture. Matthew 14 is the account of Jesus walking on the water. Verse 24 says, “But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.” This storm is so great that even experienced fishermen couldn’t handle it. Peter, James and John were fishermen by trade. They knew how handle storms, but this one was so great they couldn’t control the boat. Matthew tells us it was during the fourth watch which would’ve been from 3-6 AM., a massive storm in the middle of the night. And it was at this moment Jesus comes to the apostles walking on the water. What is their reaction? They believe Jesus to be a ghost or “evil spirit.” And honestly if I was in their position I’d be afraid, too. Verse 27 gives us three significant reminders. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’” “Take Courage”
Jesus tells them to have courage in a scenario that many would be scared for their life in.
“It is I”
“ego emi.” This phrase reminds us of what God said to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). Jesus says, “it is I”–the “I AM,” The all-powerful.
“Do not be afraid” He tells them not to fear. To suppress the natural reaction and to trust in the great I AM. The next time we encounter storms in our lives, take courage BECAUSE, The Great I AM, has got you in His hand. So don’t be afraid. Trust the Loving Savior to care for you.
Someone once said, “Excuses are tools of the incompetent, and those who specialize in them seldom go far.” Ben Franklin is quoted saying, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
Jeremiah had a complete list of excuses ready when God called on him to be a prophet to the people of Israel. Many times the excuses of Jeremiah become ours when we are called on to be a preacher to this world. We see that with every excuse Jeremiah made, God gave promises in return.
First, Jeremiah said, “the task ahead is difficult.” God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Notice what God says to Jeremiah: “I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” The task ahead is difficult, so Jeremiah gives off a list of excuses for why he isn’t the one for this job. God gives a promise for Jeremiah’s excuses; He says, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” God knew that Jeremiah was the one for the job, even if Jeremiah didn’t think so.
Second, Jeremiah said, “I don’t have the talent.” Jeremiah 1:6 says, “Then I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” Many times people blame their cowardice on lack of talent. They say that it isn’t a natural talent to them, that there are others more suited for the job; but God knows Jeremiah and the great good he can accomplish. In Jeremiah 1:9, God promises that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
As Christians today we have these same promises for our worries and excuses. Let’s not blame our cowardice on a lack of talent. That isn’t a good excuse to God. Nothing is. God has promised He will be with us, and we have HIS Word to teach to others. Let’s trust in that.
A lot of you do not know this about me but I grew up on a dairy farm. Holstein cows were a part of every day of my life up until about five or six years ago.
I have milked, showed, studied, and researched cows for years and invested so much time, effort and even money into cows. I can answer almost any question and have a deep conversation at any moment and can be confident in my answers when it comes to a Holstein cow… who won the show, who owns it, where it came from, her genetics.
The thing is… cows are no longer part of my life. I still have all that knowledge that worked so hard for, but it is basically useless in my everyday life.
Most people I deal with today would think I was crazy and probably take offense if I came up and asked what they thought about the rump and legs on that cow.
The need for that knowledge faded away just like every other earthly thing will and does for each of us.
I am sure we all have things in our life that seemed so important at one time and that we have moved on from. It faded away and was not near as important as we thought it was. Things of this earth will always fade away at some point.
God, Jesus, and the Bible does not fade away and never will!
1 Peter 1:4 tells us that God has given us an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away. It is reserved in heaven for each of us because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We should have the same knowledge and confidence in the Bible and about Jesus that we have about our hobby or job or whatever else it is that consumes our time and know that it will never become useless. If anything, it should get more and more important in our lives.
We should be able to have:
-Have a conversation about Jesus and not be nervous -Be confident in answering questions about the Bible -Quote scripture and passages from heart just as we can the facts about our hobby or job and whatever interest we have that consumes us on a daily basis.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” God has given us everything we need to be prepared to win souls AND to save our own soul. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We need that same knowledge, passion, and fire for studying the Word of God and being the “workman” that we are for our hobbies and earthly things. Being able to teach anyone at any time about Jesus and have ready answers for them. There are people out there that want to hear about Jesus. We need to be ready and able to talk to them, teach them and most importantly be an example to them. Remember: ““Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
– Are you the worker God wants you to be?
– Are you ready to use the tools He has given you? The Bible, your abilities and talents
– Are you ready to put in the time and effort that you need to to be the Christian that
God wants you to be? To study and learn from something that will never fade away or become useless.
In the first chapter of Genesis we read that God made man dominion over every creature He had made. Then in James 3:7 the inspired writer says, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind.” When we think about the implications of that and then apply it to the world of the Old Testament it becomes even more impressive. The first humans lived with all kinds of beasts, including the dinosaurs. Whatever image comes to mind when you think of those extinct reptiles, it’s probably not that of a tame animal. God gives us a curious glimpse into the past where humans and dinosaurs not only coexisted, but we managed to tame them. In Ecclesiastes, the preacher concludes his sermon in chapter 12 by saying we must prepare ourselves for the day we meet our Creator. The spirit that He made will one day return back to Him. Solomon then says, “fear God.”
The correlation between “spirit” and “fear” is also seen in the New Testament. Paul writes to a fearful and wavering Timothy, “God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The message in the Old and New Testament then is, “fear nothing but God.” When Adam and Eve were in the garden they feared nothing because that’s not the spirit that God gave them. He gave us one of power, because of the God we serve. He is our Father and He has all the power. He gave us a spirit of love. We aren’t animals. We aren’t lions who display great power but lack the ability to love. We were made in the image of God and that means we have both a spirit, which is our life force, and a soul— our eternal life force. On top of all this God gave us the spirit of a sound mind. The Greek word used there means a mind that is calm. Even in the face of calamity and craziness, we can be calm. Why? Because we are God’s children and God is in control. One day every faithful Christian will get back that perfect spirit given to His original creations. Spirits without fear.
On 14 occasions in his gospel record, Matthew uses a word from which we get our English word “scandal.” Arndt and his fellow lexicographers define the word as meaning “to cause to be brought to a downfall; to shock through word or action” (BDAG 926). Jesus was at times the cause of others experiencing anger or shock through what He said and did. While Jesus uses the word to condemn those whose words and actions cause themselves and others to stumble (5:29,30; 18:6,8-9), it more often refers to those who took offense at what He said or did. He was not a poor example or stumbling block. The problem for many was that what Jesus stood for and taught was unpopular, difficult, or contrary to fleshly desires.
Does living the Christian life ever cause us to run the risk of being scandalous to the world? Share Jesus’ sexual ethics and expectations. Tell others Jesus’ exclusive salvation message. Stand up for His doctrine. Condemn what He would condemn. Any number of social causes celebrated in our society crash against the teaching of Jesus. When you stand with Him, you can expect the world (and sometimes even the weak among God’s people) to “take offense” (11:16; 13:57; 15:12; 26:31).
We should never be a scandal because of unrighteous behavior (see those passages in chapters 5 and 18). We should never go out of our way to be offensive. But, we should know that walking with Jesus will lead us to scandalize some. What will comfort us is knowing that standing with the Scandalized Savior will keep Him from taking offense at us! Nothing is more important than that.