January 18, 2011

Cause for Stumbling

Matthew 18:1-14

“If your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.”
Matthew 18:9


According to Jesus, little ones are the greatest! But children (and any adults humble enough to become like them) are as vulnerable as they are precious. They’re going through big changes. They’re not yet full of themselves. For this reason, they can be mistreated by the world’s bullies. Woe to those who cause little ones to lose their way! Jesus’ most dreadful sanctions are aimed at them.

What about the bully within ourselves? This is another point of Jesus’ shocking picture of sawing off our own offending hands or gouging out our own offending eyes. Within each of us is a child of God invited to take his or her place in the kingdom by faith. But there is also within us a dangerous offender who mocks and tries to trip up that child. That bully must be crucified with Christ. Little ones and bullies cannot coexist for long in the same place.

Our Master was uncompromising about this. Is your heart a haven for spiritual progress and real faith, or has a bully made it a place of ambush?

What if you and your family practiced zero tolerance for spiritual pride and power games so that no one could ever stick out a foot to trip up anyone’s baby steps again?

We have abused the new creation in us, Lord, with our own vain eyes, our own manipulative hands, and our own stubborn feet. With your help, Lord, may we never do those things again. Amen.

About the author — Norm Prenger

Rev. Norm Prenger is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary. He pastored churches in Alberta and British Columbia before he was disabled by a heart attack and a post-operative stroke. He now lives with his wife, Gwen, near Thunder Bay, Ontario. He enjoys fishing, writing, drumming, and encouraging his fishing partners and neighbors to follow Jesus.

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