STUMBLING BLOCKS

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

HOLY WARRIORS

(Part 38)

STUMBLING BLOCKS

August 8, 2017

Today’s readings:

Numbers 12:1-13

Psalm 51:3-13

Matthew 14:22-36

Today, from the readings, we look at three great stumbling blocks to being used more effectively by God. Holy warriors are to strive with all their God-given strength, by the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit, to overcome these.

First and foremost is sin. Now of course we are all sinners, and God knows that. But do we know it or admit it? Like David, we better do. “For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me.” (Ps 51:5). God is of course patient and merciful. But we do not take that for granted, and so we must always pray, “Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions.” (Ps 51:3). But God expects us to avoid sin and to grow in holiness. We must strive at all times to be pure of heart and mind. Our constant prayer must be: “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit.” (Ps 51:12).

What are some manifestations of an unclean heart?

  • Becoming comfortable with works of the flesh.
  • Being worldly in personal desires and lifestyle.
  • Looking to power, position and perquisites in doing service to God.
  • Not desiring or actively pursuing holiness.

Second stumbling block is lack of faith or trust in God. We must know God to be the loving Father who provides richly for the needs of His children. He is the Master who has made Himself the servant to His people. He is the all-powerful Spirit who guides us and equips us for our work. He makes all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Jesus already gave his life for us, so will he withhold anything else?

We should know all that, and so we profess our faith and trust in God. But oftentimes, when trials and great challenges come, we falter. Much like Peter. He had faith in Jesus, which caused him to walk on the water at Jesus’ simple word, “Come.” (Mt 14:29). “But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened, and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Mt 14:30).

What are some manifestations of a lack of faith?

  • Putting money before mission rather than mission before money (deciding to move on leadings of the Spirit, with the confidence that resources will be provided).
  • Focusing on our weaknesses and shortcomings rather than the strength and power of God.
  • Not moving forward because it is too difficult.
  • Faltering and falling back when we see the great opposition and hurdles before us.

Third stumbling block is envy of others, especially other leaders. We are called to be one body and one army in Christ. We have one vision and mission. We do one work. All these should be enough to get us working well together, looking to the good of our brethren and co-workers, and rejoicing and weeping together in victories and setbacks. But the enemy not only assaults us from without, but works from within in order to undermine the body. One great weapon he utilizes is stirring up envy, especially against leaders who are successful and fruitful in their service. Such was the case with Moses and his siblings. “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses” (Nm 12:1a). What they complained about was revealing. “Is it through Moses alone that the Lord has spoken? Has he not spoken through us also?” (Nm 12:2). Why him and not us?

When this sin is unchecked, it escalates quickly. Among the fruits of envy would be gossip, backbiting, calumny, factionalism, and even rebellion. Instead, we must desire that others succeed, even surpassing our own contributions to the work. We must do what we can to help others succeed, even seemingly at our own expense. We must rejoice that God is using not just us but others as well, for His glory and the good of the body.

What are some manifestations of envy?

  • Putting down other leaders or minimizing the good that they do.
  • Thinking we are better than others.
  • Not cooperating with the one we are envious of, or at least not going all out to help enhance his service.
  • Being competitive and even putting stumbling blocks in the way of others.

We are so privileged to be called and chosen to be God’s holy warriors. We must be holy as God is holy, and we must follow only His agenda, priorities and work. Keeping us from this is our own sin, our lack of trust in God, and our lack of charity towards our co-workers.

We must know not only what our call is, but who we are. Being sinners who have been granted the privilege to do divine work, we must be humble. Just like Moses. “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than anyone else on earth.” (Nm 12:3). Then just like Moses, God will be able to use us to do great things for Him and for His people. Then we must strive for purity. “Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure” (Ps 51:9a). Finally, we must have full and complete trust in God. We must strive to have that faith that moves mountains …. or allows us to walk on water.

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