My kids have often heard me say, “Be aware of how what you’re doing affects others.” My point in telling them this begins with simply having good manners in public places. But I also want them to understand that their every attitudes, actions and words always impact others in some way.
We also talk about preferring others and being willing to do what another wants for the sake of the relationship. They are beginning to realize that putting aside personal preference is often one of the most powerful ways to build a relationship.
I wish I could say that these talks come from me simply wanting to share biblical truth with my boys. But, my purpose really goes much deeper and gets more personal.
You see, I too struggle with being aware of how I impact others with my moods, preferences and habits. I too have comfort zones that cause me to overlook some people. And, yes, I also let my feelings and preferences determine my actions at the cost of relationship sometimes.
In 1 Corinthians 8:9, Paul speaks to setting aside preferences in order to not be a barrier to others seeing Christ. And Romans 14:13 speaks to a determination to constantly monitor the affect of your behavior on others. What both of these scriptures get at is that we must do what we can to not place a stumbling block in another’s path.
We don’t actually cause another person to stumble since every person has a free will. Yet, we sure can trip someone up, which can take their focus off of Jesus just long enough for them to stumble. In doing so, we can certainly make their walk more difficult.
For me, application of this scripture involves making sure I am approachable while at the same time realizing I must sometimes do the approaching. It means getting outside of my comfort zone and talking to those outside my circle of favorites. And, it also means getting over my own feelings of inadequacy and not fitting in and instead helping others to feel like they are adequate and fit in.
Avoiding placing a stumbling block in another’s path requires having a strong faith that trusts God with every step. At the same time, it means being sensitive to the needs of others and doing our best to meet those needs. In other words, it means following Jesus’ example of humbleness and obedience (Philippians 2:5-8).
DISCUSSION: What changes might you need to make so as to not put a stumbling block in another’s path?