The story is told of a traveler who once stopped at an old country store. As he entered there was a big sign on the door that warned: “Beware of the Dog!” He thought that rather strange for a place of business, but opened the door and cautiously went on in. He picked up the few items that he needed and took them to the register to check out. It was then that he spotted an old hound sleeping behind the counter. He asked the store manager, “Is that the dog folks are supposed to beware of?” “Yep, he’s the one,” the manager answered. Too curious to let it go, the customer said, “He certainly doesn’t look like a dangerous dog to me. Why in the world would you post that sign?” “Because,” the owner responded, “before I posted that sign, people kept tripping over him.”
This story reminded me of an expression used in some of the older translations of the New Testament, “stumbling block.” The word quite simply defined is: “an obstacle or an impediment to progress.” The Bible uses this word specifically or in principle in relation to spiritual matters. In principle, it is used of the scribes and Pharisees by Jesus to warn against stumbling over their bad influence (cf. Matthew 16:6; 23:13).
On the other hand, there are other passages where we are specifically warned not to be a “stumbling block” to those around us. For example, Paul taught “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way” (Romans 13:12). The context of this verse has to do with those who are “strong” spiritually not imposing their liberties to the point to where they cause those who are “weak” spiritually to stumble. Yet, the bottom line is: we must be careful to not be a stumbling block to anyone- - at any time.
Unfortunately, there are too many times when “stumbling blocks” enter people’s lives. They have been known to pop up between husbands and wives. It often happens when the level of commitment to spiritual things is higher in one or the other. The less committed often becomes a discouragement (stumbling block) to their mate, often leading to them abandoning their walk with the Lord.
Beyond husbands and wives stumbling blocks sometimes exist between parents and children; between friends; et.al. It would be nice if they were all clearly marked by a large warning sign, but they are not. Thus, the best you and I can do is to be advised to watch for them and more importantly, never to be one!