“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.” NRSV
Jesus is pretty clear that causing another to stumble carries with it serious consequences. This is why we study and pray, to discern God’s will for our lives. If we are living the lives Jesus calls us to live, we become witnesses, sources of blessing, and, forgiveness…not stumbling blocks. Recognizing that no one has the market cornered on God’s truth, we raise our questions one with another. We work out our faith in fear and trembling, together, to expose any ignorance or misinformation we bring onto those conversations. That helps us keep from causing another to stumble.
And when “another disciple sins… if there is repentance, we must forgive.” The freedom (and responsibility) to discern God’s truth and the ability to forgive are hallmarks of God’s love and compassion for us. God wants us to be who God created us to be. Not the world’s false projection.
Discerning God’s truth is not limited to what one reads in the Bible. It is more often found in the lives of others, of strangers, even enemies, because taking the time to get to know them is how we truly get to know ourselves. What we assume about the other says more about us than it does about them ( that’s one of the first lessons taught in a basic psychology class). The reflection of ourselves we see in the other is how the false self gets revealed to us. When I am troubled by the reflection of the self I see, I begin the journey to discover my more authentic self. That is when the power of God’s love for us becomes oh so real and oh so wonderful, especially when we make this journey together. After all, we are all on (or should be on) this journey.
Be a blessing to someone today!