So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.1 Corinthians 10:32-33 NIV
Am I my brother’s keeper? This question is first found in Genesis 4:9 in response to God asking Cain where his brother was. And, in one form or another, it continues to be asked today. At the heart of this question is my responsibility for those around me. In particular, do I need to be concerned with how my actions impact others? Most of us would probably agree that I should be concerned with my impact on family and friends. But about those farther removed from my inner circle?
Paul addresses that question here for believers. And he tells us that we do need to be careful. To be careful that our lives do not cause other people to stumble. We understand the responsibility of mature believers not to cause new believers to stumble. But Paul’s directive here goes well beyond that. As believers, we need to be careful not to be the cause of anyone stumbling, including non-believers. And, by causing unbelievers to stumble, Paul means being the reason another person rejects the salvation that God offers to us.
By no means does this mean that I should compromise my faith in any way. But I do need to be careful that my life, my words, and my actions all reflect God’s love and concern for all people. I am God’s representative in this world, and unbelievers will judge God by what they see in me. Do I love and care for those I come into contact with? Are my words loving and gracious? Then I will reflect well on my Lord. Do I respond in an unloving and harsh way when something displeases me? Am I indifferent to the needs of others outside of my circle? Then I will reflect poorly on my Lord. So live, not to please yourself, but others. Especially live to please our Lord. Do not be the cause of someone stumbling and rejecting God.