Day 18: Are You a Stumbling Block?

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 39:10-15
  • Romans 14:13-21
  • Philippians 2:3-4

Stumbling block: (noun) an obstacle or hindrance to progress, belief, or understanding

It isn’t a role we want to claim. We deny it. We defend against it. But in Christian community we have to address the places we may be causing others to fall. Hopefully we are not as bold and brash as Potiphar’s wife and her persistent pursuit of Joseph. We may not even be aware of the ways we are making spiritual growth difficult for our brothers and sisters. But if we are to be obedient to Philippians 2:2-4, and value others above ourselves, we have to get honest about the ways we may be tempting others to sin.

The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of grace. As Paul points out in Romans 14, there is an abundance of freedom on our journey – Not permission to sin, but ample room in choosing entertainment, clothing, food, drink, activities, and so much more. God is a good Father and the Holy Spirit will be faithful to direct you as you pray for discernment in each area. However, when the desire to exercise our freedom is more important than the good of others, it becomes an idol.

In his book “Invitation to a Journey,” Robert Mulholland defines spiritual formation as a process of being formed in the image of Christ for the sake of others. We forget this in a culture that elevates independence and privatized faith and morals. Dying to ourselves means that we are intentional about those on the faith journey with us, and we are aware how our choices affect them.

So, are your social media posts causing your sister to struggle with envy? Are your thoughts about food and health encouraging or are you heaping shame on your brother? Has your “venting” caused your friends to entertain anger and negativity about their own situations? Do you tempt others to complain or gossip with you? Are your choices in entertainment or clothing causing someone else to lust? Is your freedom with alcohol confusing to a new believer or hurtful to a friend with an addiction?

When Joesph fled Potiphar’s wife, she became enraged and falsely accused him of attempted rape. When other’s refuse to participate with us in some of these gray areas, what do we do? Are we convicted, or do we defend our “rights?” Do we repent or at least recognize where we have been a stumbling block, or do we roll our eyes at the “goody two shoes” or the “holier than though” rub? Your reaction may reveal an idol of your heart.

Today’s Big Questions: First think about a few of these examples and identify if others have either unknowingly or consciously been a stumbling block to you. Now, honestly assess your choices, your behavior, your words, or the image you may portray to others. Can you see any possible ways you are being a stumbling block?

Prayer Response: Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal any areas that you have put your freedom above the good of others, causing them to stumble. Confess and repent of any ways you have been a stumbling block to your brothers and sisters.

Optional Action Step: If you are feeling brave, ask your family and friends if you have ever caused or encouraged them to sin by your choices, behavior, or words. If so, ask for their forgiveness and give them permission to be honest with you in this area in the future.

Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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