Monday, May 1, 2017
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It's been a long time since I've had a pregnant woman in our family. But years ago, my wife, Karen, handled it beautifully. I offered to take some of that load, but apparently some things just can't be delegated. Now, the time came around for our daughter to have her first child some years ago. She lived close to us, so we got to walk down Pregnant Avenue with her. It was exciting! It was amazing how things our daughter might have normally done without even giving it a thought she wouldn't let herself do while she was pregnant. I think she was kind of watching what her Mom did. You know, she knew what her Mom had done. She refused to eat anything with certain artificial ingredients in it, things she loved. But she wouldn't touch them while pregnant. She had some headaches, but she would not put pain relievers into her body. No antihistamines, no matter how frustrating her cold symptoms got. She added a powerful new factor in deciding what she would and wouldn't do: the passenger she was carrying - the baby!
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Eyes That Are Watching You."
Our pregnant daughter was asking a new question about what she did, "How could this harm someone else that I'm responsible for?" A pregnant woman isn't the only one who needs to be thinking about that kind of thing; about actions that might affect someone else.
Romans 14:13 is our word for today from the Word of God, "Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you can't just base your actions on how they'll affect you. There are other lives watching yours that will be affected by your choices. We believers are responsible for each other whether we acknowledge that responsibility or not. And like our daughter, there may be things you could do that wouldn't hurt you, but might harm someone who's watching you.
Paul really took this responsibility very seriously. In his day, Christians disagreed over whether it was ok to eat meat that had been offered to an idol. And Paul said he felt he could do it without it hurting him. But listen to what he decided and how he decided it. "If what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall" (1 Corinthians 8:13). And he tells you and me to "be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak" (1 Corinthians 8:9).
It's clear that our Lord expects us to calculate the effect of our actions on the people around us when we're deciding what we'll do and what we'll not do. Could it be that you're inadvertently leading a fellow believer into something that maybe you can handle but they can't? You might only do a little, but they'll see you doing it and figure it's ok. Except maybe they won't stop with a little. Something you validated could devastate someone else.
If you're a parent, your children are watching. And they'll replicate how you handle things, no matter how you tell them to act. Are you causing them to stumble? And remember there are unbelievers who know you're one of those Christian-types and they're watching you, they're listening to you. One friend told my wife and me, "I've sworn off church. I know a lot of those people and they're very different on Monday than they are in church on Sunday." She was having a hard time seeing Jesus because some inconsistent Christians were blocking the view. Could it be that some of your choices are confusing an unbeliever you know? That could harm them forever! No, it isn't enough to do something based solely on whether it will harm you. What you do, and who you are, is seeping into the systems of other people close to you.
I watched our daughter make some wonderfully unselfish choices, all because she knew how her choices could harm a life that was dependent on her choices. You've got someone in your life like that. Don't just think about what's good for you ... think about what's good for some of those vulnerable people whose lives are affected by the way you live yours.