Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Stumbling is part of the Christian experience. Some stumble more, some less, but all stumble. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 – For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. Has anyone other than me experienced what Paul is writing here? Has anyone other than me done something and later not understood why it was done?
As Christians, we’re to be quick to listen, full of forgiveness and understanding, slow to speak and slow to get angry. We long for forgiveness and understanding when we have stumbled, but are often slow to forgive and not very understanding when our brother or sister stumbles.
In our walk, we will stumble… we will do that which we hate… we will have times when our word doesn’t align with who we’ll one day be in Christ. We’re human. (The interesting thing is that others we encounter along our path are human too. The Bible says that there are none perfect.) When we stumble, how will we use this to improve our witness? What will we learn? When we see our brother stumble, what can we help him learn? Will we look on and cluck our tongue or will we reach out and help him up? Will he learn love or judgement from our reaction?
Witness is a journey. This means there will be times we stumble. This means we will encounter brothers and sisters who have stumbled. A pedestal of pride is the jumping off place for destruction (Proverbs 16:18). God calls on us to forgive even as He has forgiven us. How has He forgiven us? Frequently, completely, undeservedly, mercifully, gracefully, unconditionally, and the list goes on. How are we to forgive our brother? The same way. How do we hope to be forgiven by others? Just as God forgave us.
Our choice when the strong stumble: Look on or lift up. Witness is a journey, not a pedestal.