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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Are You an Example to Others or Causing Them to Stumble?

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt


This morning I read a quote from a great evangelist who said, “I don't look for scriptures to appease my flesh. I look for them to crucify it." I have such a great appreciation for that statement because the Word of God has such transforming power. It can help transform our thinking and behavior to be more Christlike; something that will not only bless our life but the lives of those our life touches. Therefore, I want my life pricked and challenged by God’s Word.
One of the more challenging and life changing verses that I've ever read comes from Matthew 18:7. "How terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin. Temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting.”
Matthew 18.6 (1)As a new Christian and growing believer, I was challenged by my first Christian mentor to understand how important it is to not be a stumbling block to others. My mentor said, You will find that you will try to justify hanging on to certain behaviors, attitudes, or vices. I won’t tell you what they are because that is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Lord will reveal them to you through His Word. You’ll then have a decision to make. Will you humble yourself like an obedient child, follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and make the changes He is asking you to make, or will you try to justify yourself? You will find that the change the Lord is asking you to make will affect more than just yourself. It will directly or indirectly affect others. If they see you cling to your old ways, they’ll take it as justification to do the same. If they see that God has done a work in you, it has the potential to minister to them and affect them. They will think about the changes they see in you and it will open the door for God to work in their life. So, as God’s Word tries to speak to you, you’ll face choices. You’ll either cling to fleshy or carnal behaviors and attitudes causing you to be a stumbling block to others and hindering your own spiritual growth, or you’ll let God work in you and let the power of the Holy Spirit transform an area of your life.
That was powerful counsel but the scriptures pricked my heart at an even greater level. Matthew 18:4-6 says, “Therefore, anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to stumble, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” 
Ouch! These words from Jesus made me realize how serious not being a stumbling block to others is. It helped me realize that my life is not my own. I don’t just live it for myself. My life is to be a living letter to be read by others. God wants change in me not just for myself, but also because it can benefit others by example. Jesus went on to say that if I am doing something that is unprofitable, to pluck it out of my life because if I didn't, it could affect me (and others) much more negatively than I could ever imagine. I try to think through this truth in every aspect of my life.

I often see others today who I presume are young Christians attempting to learn about Jesus and God's Word and share what they learn with others in Social Media. I have seen countless pages of those on Twitter who on one hand, tweet Bible verses and then soon again tweet thoughts laced with profanity or sexual thoughts and images. I know they aren't trying to violate God's Word. They simply don't realize how confusing that is to others that they want to share Jesus with. Are Bible verses, profanity, and sexual thoughts and images lumped all together okay with God? Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) "Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Holy Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy."  
The answer is no, and they don't realize what they are doing because they haven't matured to that place in Christ to know that what they are saying and posting is causing others to think all of it is okay.  I know that most don't know better because they are unchurched, without a mentor, and barely read their Bible. They are schooled mostly by things they read in Social Media. Hopefully, what they will learn is that God wants sin and wrong behaviors to drop from our life. They will eventually learn what is said in  Ephesians 4:21-24. The Holy Spirit will help that happen within our heart. He will help us to avoid being a stumbling block to others. Over time He'll help us be an example of how to live for Jesus and become more Christlike.

As the evangelist said, “I don't look for scriptures to appease my flesh. I look for them to crucify it." I don’t want to be appeased. I want to be transformed!
2 Cor. 5:15 “Jesus died for everyone so that those who receive His new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
 


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