“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” (2 Corinthians 6:3, NIV)
Living solely for oneself is unacceptable! The Bible says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) When we knowingly place our own personal interests above the spiritual needs of others – that makes us unusable.
Christian service requires that we prayerfully focus our attention on protecting and uplifting those whom God has placed in our lives. Our spiritual goal is to be a positive influence on everyone we encounter on a daily basis. As an example, let’s assume that someone you meet is seeking to overcome an addiction. Your influence can either be a steppingstone to help them or actually be a stumbling block. Would you knowingly place a stumbling block in anyone’s path? Definitely not! Paul modeled this selfless lifestyle and he challenged us to do the same. He said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV)
The positive influence of one’s faith, Christian values, and convictions can greatly inspire their much-loved family members and circle of friends. Or, in contrast, one’s lack of faith in Jesus Christ can potentially pull them down. The Bible therefore warns, “The one who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
For everyone’s sake, as well as the Lord’s, prayerfully determine to make your attitude and example an uplifting blessing to all those around you. Don’t talk “whipped cream” and live “skimmed milk!” The contrast between these two realities will ultimately become a serious stumbling block for those who observe the difference!
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not form the Father but from the world.” (I John 2:15-16)
Paul underscored the spiritual importance of modeling the Christian faith. Thoughtfully consider what he wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9, NIV) Your example will always be the closest friend of your verbal witness – so plan to protect it! Your faith and lifestyle will create the enduring story which people will remember and tell about you, so for that reason, pray daily to be consistent. Your walk and your talk must always be in sync! Your public and private behavior must be equally honorable. Your character and love for God will undergird your spiritual witness.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4)
If you are doubleminded and inconsistent, Scripture warns that you will be “…unstable in all your ways.” (James 1:8) Consistency is the best possible protection of your testimony.
By Billie Hanks Jr.