31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble,whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 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 Cor. 10:31-33 NIV
Every word that we say and every action we take has an effect on everyone in our circle of influence, whether that circle is small or large is not the question. Every thing we do and/or say should be seasoned with love, kindness and mercy. Otherwise, how can our words and actions glorify God? If we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, we will not be a stumbling block to those around us. Notice that Paul says he “tries” to please everyone in every way. We are not to violate our conscience simply to please someone, that would be a sin for us and a stumbling block for them. We are not to seek glory or earthly rewards for ourselves. Instead, we live a lifestyle that glorifies God and builds up our rewards in heaven. But when there is a conflict of conscience, every choice we make must please God and not man.
3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others,
–1 Thess. 2:3-6a ESV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. — Romans 16:17-20 NIV
From the first century church until now, there have been those who use the Gospel for their own benefit. No matter what size the congregation, satan seems to always have one of his minions involved. Whether they are misleading people for financial gain, power or popularity, the reason really doesn’t matter. We must be aware of anyone whose message doesn’t quite align with the scriptures. Even more dangerous are those whose words ring true but their actions do not agree with what they say. These people are usually easy on the eyes and their speech is very eloquent. It is extremely hard for the flesh to resist them. But, as we have learned, following them leads to death. Sometimes spiritual death, other times both spiritual and physical death. We need to pray for discernment so that we will be aware of these deceivers. We are warned over and over in the Bible that these people will abound more and more as the second coming of our Lord and Savior grows ever nearer.
12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. — Jude 12