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 (NET). “How terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin. The temptation to do wrong is inevitable, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting.”
As a new Christian and growing believer, I was challenged by my first Christian mentor to understand how important it is not to be a stumbling block to others. My mentor said, “You’ll find yourself trying to justify and hold 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. In those moments, you’ll 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 or simply ignore God? 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, viewing you as a Christian, see you cling to your old ways, they’ll take it as justification to do the same. But, if they see that God has done a transforming work in you, then it has the potential to minister to them and influence them toward living a life in Christ. They will think about the changes they see in you and if their heart is open, it will open the door for God to work in their life. So, as God’s Word speaks 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 as I read God’s word regarding it. Matthew 18:4-6 NLT 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 represent God and His Word and to be a living Bible 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, then I need 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 on Social Media. I have seen countless pages of those on Twitter or Facebook who on one hand, share Bible verses but also share thoughts or humor laced with profanity or sexual thoughts and images. I know they aren’t trying to violate God’s Word. But, because of their immaturity in the Lord, they don’t realize how confusing that is to others they want to share Jesus with. Are Bible verses, profanity, and sexual thoughts and images lumped all together okay with God? The answer is no! Ephesians 4:21-24 (NLT) says “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.”
They don’t realize what they’re doing because they haven’t matured to that place in Christ. They don’t know that what they’re saying and posting is causing others to think that all of it is okay when it’s not! That’s causing others to stumble! My hunch would be 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 on Social Media. What they need to learn is that God wants sin and wrong behaviors to drop from our lives and His ways to surface in their thinking and behavior. The Holy Spirit will help that happen for those who seek God. He will help us to avoid being a stumbling block to others, and over time He’ll help us become an influence and example of how to live for Jesus and become more Christlike day by day.
And so… 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 a stumbling block to anyone. I want to be transformed into the image of God and become a godly influence to those God places in my life!
2 Corinthians 5:15 (NLT) “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.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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