A adult should be very careful in his words and behaviour lest he should offend the young or the weak, as the Apostle says, "But beware lest you become a stumbling block to those who are weak" (1 Cor. 8:9). And he repeats, "the weak brother... for whom Christ died..."
(1 Cor. 8:11), and says also, "Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble" (1 Cor. 8:13). The Apostle says concerning conscience, "Conscience, I say, not your own, but that of the other... not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved" (1Cor. 10:29-33).
The Lord Christ spoke about offenses and warned against offending the young, saying, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin... Woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" (Matt. 18:6,7).
The strong may be able to resist the causes of offense, but what about the weak?
By the strong we mean the person who is spiritually strong, who has self control and maturity. Such a strong person can discern what is wrong and can resist it. However, he may fall in condemning its doer. But the problem is that of offending the weak, the young or the simple.
A weak person may say: If the adult falls, what can I, the weak person, do? He may yield or fall out of despair or submission.
A weak person stumbles when he sees the ideals fall before him.
Therefore St. Paul the Apostle reprimanded St. Peter the Apostle before the others, saying, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?" (Gal. 2:14). St. Paul said this because he found, "that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy" (Gal. 2:13). Barnabas was thus offended by them.
Adults should hence be careful in their behaviour; by this I mean the parents in the family, the teachers towards the pupils, the ministers towards those whom they serve, the priests towards the congregation and the guides towards those who seek their counsel.
They ought not be a stumbling block with their conversation, behaviour, movement and features.
They should be keen about keeping order, obeying the law and keeping the commandments, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. When deacons, for example, are careful not to talk during prayer, and are careful to respect the altar and the prayers, they can be an example to the congregation. Likewise when they behave in a wrong way, they will be an offense to the congregation who may follow their example.
The person who talks in church during prayers commits many faults:
First : Not respecting the church, not respecting the prayers, and lack of God's fear in their heart.
Second : He becomes an offense to others, who will either imitate him, or commit the sin of condemning him.
The same may be said about a person who keeps looking at his watch during a meeting or a sermon, or who leaves church before the final blessing or dismissal.
A person should avoid being a stumbling block, even if his behaviour is not wrong.
When the Lord Christ was asked to pay tax, knowing that tax was only to be taken from strangers, said to Peter, "Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook and take the fish... you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you" (Matt. 17:27).
In order not to offend them also, He went to be baptized by John the Baptist to set the example for repentance, though He needed no repentance.
The Lord Christ obeyed the law in many things which were not necessary for Him, and St. Mary also did the same so that they might not be an offense to others.
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