12-14So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we're in this with Christ for the long haul.
We are inundated with signs all around us as we walk, drive, shop, and play. The crosswalk advises us to walk or stay. The road signs advise of speed limits, hazards in the road, and delays in traffic. The store shelves and windows boast of huge savings and new products. The images of toned bodies pull us into places where our bodies can be firmed, sculpted, and beautified. We "take in" the signs in our path and process them - some consciously, and others quite unconsciously.
If I describe for you that yellow plastic sign with the little man (one foot in the air, one on the ground, arms outstretched) and black lettering upon it - what would you say was the purpose of the sign? Most of us just guessed right - it is the caution sign put out when the floors are wet. We are being "warned" to watch our step. Here we have a passage from the Book of Hebrews that begins with that very same warning - watch your step, because it is easier to get "tripped up" than we might realize!
The idea of stumbling is represented here - the going along just fine until all of a sudden something in our path makes us stagger and possibly fall. It is the idea of making a "slip" in how we normally respond - acting out of what is common character for us. For example, most of the time I can be pretty laid back, intuitive and introspective about life's challenges. Then, almost without warning, one hits me hard and I respond with fear, edginess, and doubt. What made the difference here? It is often something as simple as being "tripped up" by what was right in front of us that we just did not notice.
Most of the time, we get "tripped up" because we just did not notice the signs all around us. We had plenty of "warning" of the impending "obstacle" or "hazard" in our path, but we simply did not pay attention. At other times, we just don't heed the warnings! We think that they don't apply in this situation. Both of these responses to the "signs" are equally dangerous for us. Being in a situation in which stumbling is likely means that we are walking unsteadily - we have the opportunity to slip or blunder.
So, what is the remedy? Well, it is pretty clear from the passage - we keep each other from "blundering"! You and I need "blunder buddies". There is strength in numbers. I may not see the warning signs - but you might. You might not recognize the dangers in your path - but I can. When we are faithful to hold each other accountable - pointing out in love what we so desperately need to pay attention to - we both benefit. You are made stronger - I am made stronger.
I have a dear friend who walks around the wet floor signs - faithfully! I guess I am just a little less cautious - I plow ahead, looking at the floor, observing for wet spots. Why is that? She believes the signs mean what they say! I think they may have been there a while and just don't apply any longer! Why does she trust them? Maybe it is because she has nearly fallen. You never know - the one who points out the sign may have insights beyond your own!
Slips, mistakes, and blunders cost us dearly. Isn't it good to know that God has given us others with eyes to see, ears to hear, and a mouth to share what we cannot, or simply refuse to see or hear? Each blunder in life "slows us down" - we have to regroup from those blunders. Regrouping takes time and energy that would be best spent on other things. When we avoid the blunder in the first place, it is much better.