Stumbling blocks. You don’t want to be one. And you don’t want them in your life, either. However what do you do when the stumbling block comes from somebody you’re keen on dearly, or from someone with whom you already know you might be called to labor in God’s Kingdom?
With a view to keep away from hindrances, we need to recognize them after they come up alongside the narrow path. On the most simple stage, a stumbling block is an obstacle to our progress in the Lord; it’s something that gets in between us and God’s good plan for our lives; it is anything that leads us into temptation. It’s a snare. Strong’s Concordance defines a stumbling block as “any person or thing by which one is (entrapped) drawn into error or sin.”
The phrase “stumbling block” is used 14 occasions in varied translations of the Bible. I am going to focus on just one in this exhortation—one that got here straight from the lips of the Anointed One to my spirit. It’s an example that shows how even those closest to us—even these called to stroll with us and do nice things for the Lord alongsideside us—can at times present a stumbling block in our path. How one can we take care of family members who present stumbling blocks in a spirit grace, mercy and love without falling into the trap?
Jesus called Peter a stumbling block after he rebuked the Lord for confessing that He should go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priest and the academics of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter insisted that such a thing would by no means occur to Jesus. Selfishness was on the root of Peter’s words. Let’s listen in to how Jesus responded:
“Jesus turned and mentioned to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Devil! You’re a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns’” (Matthew 16:23, NIV). Peter was more concerned about himself than the plan of God, and therefore offered a stumbling block.
Imagine if Jesus had entertained Peter’s words … “You recognize, Peter, you might be right. That shouldn’t occur to me. That’s not really fair. I’ve never sinned. Why ought to I die for the sin of the world? Possibly I’ll call on the angels to deliver me. Humankind can cope with its own problems!” Thank God that Jesus didn’t fall into the snare.
Here’s the point: How typically do these around us—even those with the perfect intentions—speak the opposite of God’s will into our lives? How often do they discourage us from following our God-given dreams because of their unbelief? How often do they get us stirred up when persecution comes and tempts us to retaliate or merely defend ourselves when God wants to vindicate us in His time?
Jesus was quick to discern the obstacles alongside the trail to His future—a future that would take away the sin of the world—and He was fast to confront and press by them. That’s because He had in thoughts the issues of God, not merely human issues—not even His personal concerns. Jesus’ mantra: Not my will, but yours be executed even when it kills me. Jesus was fast to discern and deal with the stumbling block, however that didn’t mean that Jesus instantly forged the one who put the stumbling block in His path alongside the roadside. Jesus used wisdom. He knew Peter was an integral part in God’s plan to build the early church.
No, Jesus didn’t forged Peter aside. But Jesus didn’t enable Peter’s hindering words to live in His heart, either. Jesus instead taught Peter the correct way to respond: “Whoever desires to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and observe me. For whoever needs to avoid wasting their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will discover it” (Matt. 16:24-25). Jesus didn’t exclude Peter from His internal circle or even sit him down for a season. In His mercy and charm, He helped Peter get his focus back on the issues of God relatively than merely human concerns.
Indeed, six days later, the Bible says, Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain the place they witnessed His configuration (Matt.17:1-eleven). What a privelege! Then came Peter’s test. Jesus predicted His demise a second time: “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They may kill him, and on the third day he can be raised to life” (Matt. 17:22-23). Although the disciples had been filled with grief, Peter did not stand in opposition to the need of God. He didn’t present a stumbling block.