"In many things we all stumble" James 3:2.
This word of God by James is the description of what man is--even the Christian--when he is not kept by grace. It serves to take away from us all hope in ourselves.1 "Now unto Him that is able to guard you from stumbling...be glory, majesty, dominion, and power ...for evermore" (Jude 24,25). This word of God by Jude points to Him who keeps us from falling, and who stirs our soul to give Him the honor and the power. It serves to confirm our hope in God.2 "Brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble" (2 Peter 1:10). This word of God by Peter teaches us the way in which we can become recipients of the care of the Almighty, and it confirms our having been chosen by God to walk as He did (see verses 4,8,11). It serves to lead us into diligence and conscientious watchfulness.3
For the young Christian, what he should think about his stumblings is often a difficult question. On this point, he should especially be on his guard against two errors. Some become discouraged when they stumble--they think that their surrender was not sincere, and they lose their confidence toward God.4 Others again take it too lightly. They think that it cannot be any other way. They seldom concern themselves with stumblings and, therefore, continue to live in them.5 Let us take these words of God to teach us what we should think of our stumblings. There are three lessons.
Do not let stumblings discourage you. You are called to perfection--yet this does not come at once. Time and patience are needed for it. Therefore, James says, "Let patience have its perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire."6 Do not think that your surrender was insincere--acknowledge only how weak you still are. Do not think that you must continue to stumble--acknowledge only how strong your Savior is.
Let stumbling arouse you to faith in the mighty Keeper. It is because you have not relied on Him with a sufficient faith that you have stumbled.7 Let stumbling drive you to Him. The first thing that you must do with a stumbling is to go with it to your Jesus. Tell it to Him.8 Confess it, and receive forgiveness. Confess it, and commit yourself with your weakness to Him, and depend on Him to keep you. Continually sing the song, "To Him that is mighty to keep you, be the glory."
And then, let stumbling make you very wise. 9 By faith you will strive and overcome. In the power of your Keeper, and in the joy and security of His help, you will have courage to watch. The firmer you make your commitment, the stronger the certainty that He has chosen you--He will not let you go. You will become more conscientious to live in all thing: only for Him, in Him, through Him.10 By doing this the Word of God says, you will never stumble.
Lord Jesus, as a sinner who is capable of stumbling, I give honor to You every moment. You are mighty to keep men from stumbling. Yours is the might and the power--I take You as my Keeper. I look to Your love which has chosen me and wait for the fulfillment of Your word, "Ye shall never stumble." Amen.
1) Rom. 7:14,23; Gal. 6:1
2) 2 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:16,17; 3:3
3) Matt. 26:41; Luke 12:35; I Pet. 1:13; 5:8-10
4) Heb. 3:6,14; 10:35
5) Rom. 6:1; Gal. 2:18; 3:3
6) Matt. 5:48; 2 Tim. 3:17; Heb. 13:20,21; Jas. 1:4; 1 Pet. 5:10
*The Dutch version has it: "Let endurance have a perfect work, that ye may be perfect and wholly sincere"-Tr.
7) Matt. 14:31; 17:20
8) Ps. 38:18; 69:6; I John 1:9; 2:1
9) Prov. 28:14; Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet.1:17,18
10) 2 Chron. 20:15; Ps. 18:30,37; 44:5,9; John 5:4,5; Rom. 11:20; 2 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 2:13
1. Let your thoughts about what the grace of God can do for you be taken only from the Word of God. Our natural expectations-that we must always be stumbling-are wrong. They are strengthened by more than one thing. There is secret unwillingness to surrender everything. There is the example of so many sluggish Christians. There is the unbelief that cannot quite understand that God will really keep us. There is the experience of so many disappointments when we have striven in our own power.
2. Let no stumbling be tolerated just because it seems to be a small or insignificant thing.
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