NOTHING DAMAGES OUR DIGNITY LIKE STUMBLING!
I have seen people dressed to the hilt stumble and fall flat on their faces as they were walking to church. I’ve done it myself, hoping no one was watching. I’ve watched a sure and winning touchdown by a running back foiled by a stumble.
I’ve watched brides and grooms stumble in unison . . . shoppers stumble in stores . . . rigid Marine officers stumble while inspecting the troops . . . emcees, tangled in mike wires, stumble off stage . . . and an experienced, well-respected, eloquent speaker stumble and fall just before his speech. I could never forget that one because in the fall he cut his lip, then proceeded to deliver the entire address while wiping the blood off his face!
But do you know something? Almost without exception the response of onlookers is sympathy . . . a deep sense of inner support. In fact, the immediate response is to help. I cannot remember a single occasion when anyone who stumbled was held down, stepped on, or criticized by those nearby.
Notice how James describes the inevitability of stumbling in his very practical New Testament letter:
We all make many mistakes [stumble]. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.
What’s James’s point? Nobody’s perfect . . . making mistakes, or stumbling, is a normal fact of life. More specifically, when it comes to the tongue, we often blow it!
Perhaps you’ve just realized you stumbled in something you said to your spouse or to one of your children recently. You feel guilty; in fact, you feel terrible. You wish you had never opened your mouth or responded like that. You’re miserable, discouraged, and you’d like to hide. Don’t go there. Get up out of that pit of self-pity, brush off the dirt with the promise of God’s forgiveness—and move on. Here’s an idea worth remembering: the next time you witness someone stumbling . . . be quick to assist them back to their feet. Former stumblers make excellent encouragers.