We live in a country where our liberty to pursue our lives as we choose is a cherished right. It is such a cherished right that many of our men and women have fought and died so that we could keep that right. Yet, that same liberty requires that we regulate our own behavior in a manner that does not harm others. Self-government requires self-regulation.
For example, I have the liberty to purchase the car of my choice. I could buy a convertible Honey Bee yellow 1970 Hemi Plymouth Cuda that can go from 0-60 in less than 5.8 seconds or top out at a speed of 160 mph, but if I want to drive that vehicle on the road with others there are limits to what I can do with that liberty of owning such a powerful vehicle. Our traffic laws have been put in place to help me from doing something that might harm someone else, but even acting within these laws my behavior can potentially harm others.
We choose to limit our liberty because we value the lives of others and we protect their rights to choose how they want to live their lives.
We also have to be careful how others see us and what we do. I used to ride motorcycles when I was 15 to about 17. I really enjoyed it, in fact, I still have a motorcycle designation on my driver’s license just in case I ever get a wild feeling and decide to ride again. So why haven’t I ridden a motorcycle since I was young?
It is because I got married, and had then I had two boys who watched everything that I did. Getting married meant that I had someone else depending on me to go to work every day to provide a place for us to live. Having sons meant setting an example of the kinds of behavior that would keep us, and them, safe. It is not that riding a motorcycle is bad or evil, in fact, it is a lot of fun, nor, am I concerned with my own ability to ride safely. What I am concerned about is riding on a small, two wheel, fully exposed vehicle, in amongst a bunch of 2,000 lb. heavy metal vehicles driven by people who do not even see a motorcycle rider coming down the road, and hit them on a regular basis.
So I have the full liberty to do something that is not evil, yet I choose not to do that activity because of what the impact may be on those around me. I choose not to exercise my liberty because it may impact my ability to be a good provider, and it might set an example that would cause someone else around me to stumble, or to get hurt, just because they saw me doing something.
We choose to do, or not do, certain things because we love Christ and we want to be more like Him. We also choose to do, or not to do, certain things because we are to love our neighbors as we do ourselves and we do not want to be a stumbling block to them.
This is what our lesson is about today, being, or not being, a stumbling block to others.