FIRST Thoughts

What would you be willing to give up so that others might gain something important? In a world that seeks the best seats in the stadium or public gathering or chooses the finest of options available, this might be more difficult than most might imagine. And still the question that confronts us, even to the point of making some quite uncomfortable remains; would you be willing to live with less or even without for something far more enduring?

It is not only a question of what is right or wrong but more or less also. What makes this question so unsettling for many is that the mold we have been shaped by demands more, not less. The right and wrong of it is seldom considered because we're talking about 'me' not you. And as long as it's about me and mine it simply will not be about you and others.

While the love of money remains the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10), it is the love of more that helps create a stumbling block instead of a steppingstone. Consumers tend to become consumed by the material things that will not endure. The 'stuff' that so many attempt to stuff into their life in the place of God requires maintenance and management continually. After all, what good is 'it' if 'it' won't work or can't be found when I need it? Desires such as these involve more than just our possessions. Our life purpose will be influenced dramatically also.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew's gospel, chapter 18, verse 7 and following of consistency in our love for God that resist, even refuses to put a stumbling block in anyone's path. That principle is increasingly difficult for those who live only for themselves with little thought or consideration for anyone else. Yet, thinking of others was the foundation of Jesus' life while on this earth. The same must remain in those who decide to deny themselves and follow Christ. Remember, the servant is not greater than his/her Master (John 13:16; 15:20). Our life is His life (1 Corinthians 6:20) because we have entrusted our soul to Him for salvation, security, supply and daily support.

Jesus reminds those willing to embrace truth that stumbling blocks are not acceptable. Having and refusing to give is included in the definition of a being a stumbling block. Knowing and refusing to speak qualifies in the same way that speaking and refusing to act on what you speak does. Living and refusing to love others are both included. Jesus says these natural tendencies must be removed from our person and practice if we hope to cease being a stumbling block and begin to be a steppingstone to life.

Jesus would use some serious examples to get His point across. "If your hand or foot cause you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands and two feet and be cast into eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost" (Matthew 18:7-11).

Jesus is not saying that you and I must cripple our body to keep us from becoming a stumbling block for others to come to Christ. Jesus is saying that we must deal with the 'thing' that is connected to us that is sinful. And we must deal with it drastically, thoroughly and mercilessly, the same way a medical surgeon would treat a cancerous tumor that threatened life in the body. For as long as 'it' remains intact, 'it' will eat away at a person's purpose of usefulness to God in seeing others saved from sin.

When the Lord uses the term 'little ones', He includes young children who are quite impressionable as well as those who are young children spiritually and equally impressionable.

Is there anything in your life that is hindering your life purpose of glorifying God as a believer?

If so, would you 'cut it out'? Would you stop it before it causes you or someone else to stumble? What in the world is worth holding onto if it harms us or others in the end?

That is a question I must ask and answer myself. It is a question you must ask and answer, as well. What are you giving up hereafter because you are unwilling to give something up here? The answer has eternal implications for us all.

Be right, not wrong on matters of more or less.

Pstr K

Psalm 27:1