I love shopping for groceries in Europe. A car is not necessary. You can walk to the local market or easily take a bus to a favorite store. While in France, I was leaving my favorite discount store with a buggy full of groceries on one side and a full bag of groceries on the other shoulder and tripped on a piece of jutted pavement and fell flat on my face.
Instantly, three French gentlemen stopped their vehicles and got out to check on me. Had any one of those men been walking beside me when I fell, I am sure he would have tried to catch me; however, I was already on the ground. One of them extended his hand to help me up. Although I told him I was OK, the other gentlemen had to make sure themselves. Although slightly embarrassing (I wound up with a huge black bruise on my chin), the response of these men reminded me that chivalry is not dead.
I couldn’t carry on a conversation with any of these men since I don’t speak French. All I could say was “Merci.” Although they were not angels and it is doubtful that they were Christians (since there is such a small percentage in France), that brief encounter was a reminder of some Christian principles.
In our spiritual lives, we often stump our toes and wind up in a spot we did not plan on. Being unaware of obstacles in our path, sometimes we trip and fail to carry out the will of God in a given situation. We may sin by commission or omission, but the sin would have been prevented had we been carefully watching for rocks in the road.
It is our responsibility to be aware of the possibility of stumbling and guard against it. Once we fall down, it is more than embarrassing. It might be some time before the bruise of the fall disappears. It might be so obvious that it affects our witness. However, when we fall, we need to get up and move on.
If we have stumbled because of sin, certainly we need to ask for God’s forgiveness and do what we can to rectify the situation and ensure it doesn’t happen again. We might be required to go back and move the rock out of the way so that others will not stumble.
Sometimes in the moving on process, we need help from our brothers and sisters in Christ. They can extend a hand, lift us up and help us get back on the path again. God puts the responsibility for sin squarely on the shoulders of the sinner, but one of the ways He provides restoration is through the support of members of His family.
It is good to remember that we can be on either side of this situation. Sometimes we fall and need help. Other times we watch our brothers or sisters stumble and need to lift them up. That’s part of being a family.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ…For each one shall bear his own load (Galatians 6:2, 5).