Stumbling comes easy to me.
When I was young, if I fell to the ground all I wanted was for no one to have noticed. I wanted to get up quickly and act like it never happened. “Nothing to see here folks, let’s all just move along.”
It didn’t usually happen that way. Usually someone (or several someones) saw it, would comment on it, and would feed my embarrassment about it. Kids are like that. Even if one of them offered to help me up it still made me feel awkward and embarrassed, maybe even more so since it called attention to me more than if I’d just gotten up on my own.
Now that I’m older I’m used to the fact that I’m going to trip or slip or lose my grip and take a tumble. I’m also grateful for people who will reach down to help me back to my feet. Their help is no longer an embarrassment to me but a blessing.
Stumbling Over Mistakes
Like catching my toe on a curb and pitching face forward to the sidewalk, I find myself stumbling over mistakes that I should be able to see coming. The Bible says this is part of life.
“We all stumble in many ways.” (James 3:2.)
Sometimes that stumbling lands right on top of a relationship, whether it is a new marriage, an old friendship, or between parents and children. The same passage in the Bible that tells us to expect stumbling also tells us:
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:18.)
Mistakes come easy and land hard. Peacemaking is hard but lands easy. And even if the one who stumbled didn’t land on you, there is still a part for you to play in bringing peace to the person’s life.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2.)
This law of Christ is what James calls the royal law:
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. (James 2:8.)
Anyone you see stumbling is your neighbor, whether the person is friend or family or a stranger fallen on the road. Everyone you see stumbling is a neighbor you can care for as you’d like others to care for you.
It is good not to be alone at those times, both for yourself and for them.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
When you stumble, do you accept the hand that reaches down to help you back up?
When you see someone stumble are you ready to reach down, perhaps even get down beside the person, to help them find their feet again?
Whether offering a hand or accepting a hand, this is where Jesus’ royal law of love is found.