Prepare yourself to discern what is and what is not of God today. Still yourself so you can hear how God is calling you.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.”
This is a difficult message from Jesus. It gives me anxiety and comfort. First, the comforting part, Jesus acknowledges that there will be many occasions for us while we live this life to fall flat on our faces. In fact, it seems like we will stumble (at least, I am pretty good at stumbling) but in Christianity, we should expect a community that will welcome us back with open arms when we repent even. That’s comforting to know that we are part of a community that will give us a second and seventh chance.
What makes this a difficult passage and gives me anxiety is the part about being the cause of occasion for someone stumbling. This is very difficult. We live in a world of social media and we are constantly putting out our opinions and we are correcting others. But what if our opinions and corrections lead others to accept the wrong ideas? What if one of my actions causes an occasion for someone else to sin.
I remember one day as a young man, I stayed out late partying and my mother confronted me. I responded to my mother, “I am not hurting anyone else.” That was not entirely true as one of my friends that I partied with has grown up to be an alcoholic and has been through two hurtful divorces. I am not saying that I am the cause of my friend’s alcoholism, but I was the occasion when at an early age, my friend started developing a bad habit. This reminds me that I am my brother’s and sister’s keeper.
Lord give me a desire to be holy, and the awareness of how my words and actions can impact others. Amen.
Go with God!