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Chip off the Old Stumbling Block

Stumbling Block – any impediment or obstacle

Napoleon’s genius had been attributed to many things, but, above all, he was a superb natural leader of men. Like any wise leader he was aware that his own success would have been nothing had his men not been willing, even eager, to follow him. Obviously he could not know and personally inspire every man in his vast army, therefore he devised a simple technique for circumventing this difficulty. Before visiting a regiment he would call the colonel aside and ask for the name of a soldier who had served well in previous campaigns, but who had not been given the credit he deserved. The colonel would indicate such a man. Napoleon would then learn everything about him, where he was born, the names of his family, his exploits in battle, etc. Later, upon passing this man while reviewing the troops, and at a signal from the colonel, Napoleon would stop, single out the man, greet him warmly, ask about his family, compliment him on his bravery and loyalty, reminisce about old campaigns, then pin a medal on the grateful soldier. The gesture worked. After the review, the other soldiers would remark, “You see, he knows us–he remembers. He knows our families. He knows we have served.”

Appreciation is something we have lost in the ongoing effort to keep everyone we meet as humble as possible.  We have put on God’s humbling crown and made it our own and go about humbling as many as we can.  We like to see people humbled also, and the enjoyment of getting to see someone humbled is in stark contrast to the encouragement we are commanded to give.  Through the years I have been humbled sometimes by the Lord, but many times by people.  Usually the humbling is detrimental to me staying on task in something I am doing for the Lord and it only causes me to doubt myself and the ministry I am investing in.  In other words, it becomes a “stumbling block” to me and slows down or stops whatever God is trying to do.  Jesus had to deal with stumbling blocks too.  Here is one example of what a stumbling block was to Him.  Matthew 16:23 – Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Wow.  I wouldn’t want to be that stumbling block, would you?  I guess we need to have in mind the things of God don’t we?

You see, I believe we are either building each other up or tearing each other down.  To not compliment someone and encourage them when they should get it is being a stumbling block by not saying anything just as much as saying something to put someone else down.  We should be on the offense when it comes to building others up.   Sometimes an encouraging word will be the thing that puts a person over the top in making a strong decision about something.  So not saying anything is wrong as well.  That’s a long way from those who go out of their way to put us down or become a stumbling block.  I  believe those people are a “chip off the old block” and satan is the block!!!  Time to start serving for the right team and start encouraging people around us.  You never know what will happen to a person who gets the right encouragement.  They may be the  most vital person in the whole picture.   Here is a story of someone who was not appreciated and  was thought insignificant.

The old gentleman had been hired many years earlier by a young town councilman to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town.

With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise have choked and contaminated the fresh flow of water.

The village soon became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, and the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.

Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semiannual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know, the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer.” By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man’s services.

For several weeks, nothing changed.

By early autumn, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water.

One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A few days later, the water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks, and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left, as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.

Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they rehired the old keeper of the spring, and within a few weeks, the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps.

Which are you?  Are you the encourager or the stumbling block.  If you are the stumbling block, then you will soon see the evidence of your negative efforts and it will be devastating.  Be the one who appreciates those who serve and the one who encourages them to do even more.  It will impact the kingdom for good like you have never seen.  Here’s what Paul said about being a stumbling block.  2 Corinthians 6:3 –  “We put not stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.” 


Is that clear enough for you?  It is for me….

The Pilgrimage continues….

David Warren

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