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Seeds of the Kingdom

Stumbling Blocks

by John Berry

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Romans 14:13, NIV

I was told of an accident which happened recently to a young lady who went to Holland to attend a wedding. She had arrived from overseas a few days earlier and went out on a bicycle for a little trip through the village. The word ‘trip’ took on a deeper significance as she returned to the house in the evening. She had to cross a little bridge over a small river. As she turned into the bridge from the road, her pedal caught on the raised concrete kerb, put there to protect people from falling off the bridge, and she was catapulted off the bike, down the river bank (about 1.5 meters) and into the river. She emerged from it wet and muddy, but thankfully unhurt. Once it was clear she was OK her family reacted with great hilarity. The problem was not her bike-riding ability or the quality of the bicycle, but the stumbling-block put there in good faith to prevent the very thing it caused!

I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans ‘Make up your mind not to put any stumbling-block or obstacle in your brother’s way’ Romans 14:13. The start of the verse however refers to passing judgments on one another. In other words, the stumbling blocks may originate in a right desire for truth and righteousness, but may surface as words of judgment and even criticism. Just as the concrete kerb was originally intended to show where the boundaries lay, it had the effect in the dark of becoming a stumbling block.

It’s so easy to see something which is wrong and then to make a judgment about it, instead of praying for God to reveal truth to those involved. As a manager I have responsibilities for ensuring things are in right order, but I find judgments about other people’s work or lifestyles often seem to come out unhelpfully. I pray that God will help me guard my mouth so I’m not the one who puts stumbling blocks in the way of my brothers and sisters and causes them to fall from a place of safety. The enemy can do that without my help!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I confess that I’m naturally good at finding fault with others and saying things as a result, which may cause damage. Help me to guard my tongue so I don’t put a stumbling block in people’s way. Help me to live a life which shows the Jesus way. Amen.

John Berry entered the Baptist Ministry more than 40 years ago, and joined the Team at Ellel Glyndley Manor in 2007 with his wife Jennie. They have both now retired from the team but remain as part of the Teaching and Associate Ministry Teams at Glyndley. John and Jennie have seven Grandchildren.


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