Meditation: What's the driving force in your life? Jesus
speaks of two forces at work in our lives - the power of the
temptation to sin and cause harm and the power of faith to
overcome obstacles and difficulties that stand in the way of
loving God and our neighbor. The Greek word for temptation
(scandalon) is the same as the English word scandal.
The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block
which causes one to trip and fall. The Scriptures warn us about
the snare or enticement to go astray and to do what is evil. "Keep
me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the
snares of evildoers!" (Psalm 141:9) "Whoever loves a
brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there
is no cause for stumbling" (1 John 2:10).
Jesus commands us to not give bad example or
lead others into sin
The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he or she in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.
The power of faith for overcoming obstacles
While Jesus warns against the danger of giving bad example and causing scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming obstacles and temptation to sin and wrongdoing. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matthew 17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term "mountain remover" was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties.
The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in faith and to rely on
Don't we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power or strength to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God's power. Paul the Apostle reminds us, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Do you trust in God's help and rely on his strength when you are put to the test or led into temptation?
Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God
personally, to understand his truth clearly, and to live in the
power of his love and mercy freely. God calls us to be like him -
holy, loving and wise. God expects more from us than we can simply
do by ourselves. That is why the Lord Jesus unites us to himself
through the gift of faith so that we may live in the power of his
love through the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us
(Romans 5:5). The Lord gives us the strength of the Holy Spirit
who helps us to grow strong in faith, persevere in hope, and
endure in love.
Faith is the key that unlocks God's power in our lives
Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We belong to God and our lives are no longer our own. Our joy and privilege is to follow the Lord Jesus and to serve in the power of his love, truth, and goodness. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to work in and through us for his glory. For our faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and with obedience - an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in the grace and strength which God freely gives to help you resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?
"Lord Jesus, you give us victory over the destructive forces of sin and harmful desires that keep us from doing your will. Give me the strength to always choose what is good and to reject what is wrong. May your love and truth rule my heart that I may give good example to others and guide those who need your wise instruction and help."
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/