Stumbling Blocks

October 3, 2012

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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?

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12 Responses to “Stumbling Blocks”

  1. Mary McCauley Says:

    I see this in my own life as well. With family and beyond. thanks for the reminder that others are watching us and we may be the only Bible they ever read. I pray today God’s light and love will shine through me and they will see Christ in my choices.

  2. Barb Says:

    "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."

    Love this, Kari! For me, the secret to feeling comfortable in social situations is to focus on loving others – when I do that I forget my own insecurities.

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Ministering to others can do so much for us in so many ways. I too struggle in social situations, and a focus on listening as a ministry has really been helping me lately.

      • @Vaderalman Says:

        I may have told you this quote before but I love it in relation to listening. Paul Tillich said "The first duty of love is to listen".

        • Kari Scare Says:

          I'm not sure if you did or not, but it's certainly relevant to bring up again. Lately, I've really been seeing listening as more of a ministry. We should prepare for it, expect to do it, then do it, and then process what we've heard and possibly respond at another meeting to what was said. Just a more active way to listen and to show love.

  3. @Vaderalman Says:

    I hope that I do not ignore someone that needs attention. I try to be aware and try not to do that. I remember doing that one time I was in high school where I totally ignored someone and it hurt them. I did not do it on purpose but it happened because I was not paying attention at all. I want to touch others as I walk this life and look for opportunities to do so.

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Being deliberate and intentional are so important in order to truly be attentive to others, especially when it comes to listening and truly hearing what they are saying. So much of what is said isn't through the words people say.

  4. @Vaderalman Says:

    I was thinking about who puts stumbling blocks in front of me. I thought I would go and have it out with them. But the mirror never talked back.

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Great point! We probably put more stumbling blocks in front of ourselves than anyone else puts in front of us. Knowing that to be true, I sure don't want to add to anyone else's blocks.

  5. I think this passage radically shifts our opinion of sin and how we should live our lives. We should be others-focused to the point of changing what we do in order to not offend. That's really a radical idea when you think about it.

    • Kari Scare Says:

      Certainly not natural, is it? To be so unselfish that you consider how your actions affect another's walk. We definitely need to be deliberate to make this happen.

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