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Things That Cause Stumbling: Believers

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace
and to mutual edification.
Romans 14:19

Down I went! I was singing in a choir, and the girl behind me fainted and fell on top of me. It was a surprising event, it took a moment to recover, but fortunately both of us were fine. Though unintended, the action of this girl caused me to fall. This can be true spiritually. Some actions of believers can cause others to stumble and fall.

Paul addressed stumbling others in Romans 14 and I Corinthians 10. Among the Corinthian church there was a dispute about what was permissible to eat. Paul stated, Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial…Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10: 23-24, 31). Paul exhorted the Roman church: Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way (Roman 14:13).

These verses bring several questions to mind: Am I doing something that is permissible but not beneficial or constructive for someone else? Where is my focus—on myself and my own good or on the good of others?  We live in an age where the rights of individuals are greatly emphasized. So, which is more important to you—your own rights or the edification of another?

Giving up that which is permissible is not always easy. Paul shows the difficulty by saying, Make up your mind. This must be a determined mindset, for it doesn’t come about naturally. It’s natural for me to think of myself first. However, God is asking me to place the good of others first. And so, in determining what is the right thing to do, you and I should ask ourselves two questions: “Can I do this?” and also “Should I do this?”

Lord, give me the determination to give up whatever might cause someone else to stumble. In whatever I do, may I do it for Your glory!

Jan Burkhart

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