Mat 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Mat 18:7 Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!”
As I was preparing a message from Matthew 18 I was struck by the words of Jesus here. He is pronouncing woe on any and all who cause others to sin. While vs. 7 seems to speak specifically to the lost world, vs. 6 has no such distinction and seems to include anyone, Christian or not. He certainly is saying that it is a very serious sin to not just sin yourself but to cause his saints to sin will bring even greater judgment.
But what was impressed on me was Christ’s view of life itself. It is clear that as far as he was concerned life was about doing the will of the Father which is the opposite of sin. In fact, this is why God made this earth and gives mankind life; to serve him in all things to his ultimate glory. By saying that those who tempt others to live in the rebellion of putting their own will first are better off dead, Christ seems to take a radically different approach to life than many do today.
Historically I believe that Christians understood that life was a gift from God in which we were to be good stewards of everything we have for his glory; much like a slave’s primary purpose was to serve his master. Thus to live for yourself defeats the purpose you were created for. For many today life is seen as something that we are to pursue for our own happiness and well-being and God’s primary purpose is to help us be happy and fulfilled. Some have labeled this, “Your Best Life Now”.
But notice that Jesus is saying not only that we are here for the Lord first and foremost but if we aren’t fulfilling that purpose but are instead being an influence the other way, we don’t deserve to be alive at all! Far from human life being the most important thing--God’s honor is. And if we don’t live for that purpose we are better off dead. And not only that, it is better to die a violent death than to continue to live!
He isn’t telling Christians to kill people of course but he is saying that if life isn’t lived for God we don’t deserve it and don’t be surprised if he takes it away from you as he was doing in 1 Cor. 11.
One final question might be how is it better to be dead rather than alive in this situation? Perhaps one answer might be that for a Christian it is better to have life cut short lest we do more harm than good in the Kingdom of God and for the lost person it is better to have life cut short lest their judgment be worse by being allowed to commit more and more sin against the Lord.