So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. (Romans 14:10-13 NLT)
We ALL fall at times - maybe not in a physical sense, but emotionally, spiritually, and often in ways which wound many parts of our inner man. We are encouraged to not judge each other when we fall, but rather to assist another up if they have fallen, and keep them safe from falling again! Most of our "falls" in life leave us wounded in some fashion - maybe not with skinned up knees and elbows - but wounded in our inner man, spirit, soul, and even our mind. Falling isn't easy - it hurts! No wonder God doesn't want us walking alone - he wants us to be as protected from a fall as possible! Most of the falls in my life could have been avoided if I had observed a couple of factors. Let's see if these might help any of you:
- Don't walk alone. Every instance of isolation in which we choose to walk out our faith alone is an opportunity for the enemy of our soul to make quick prey of us. Hikers don't walk alone because there is safety in numbers. We take our children to the bathroom in public places because there is safety in knowing they are well-cared for in vulnerable times. It is important to remain connected, because our connection with each other may be the first and best protection against falling.
- Don't get distracted. Falls happen because we take our eye off of what is at hand. We get into thinking about what could be if we'd just have or do this or that. We find ourselves captivated in thought of what could have been, but didn't quite work out as it should have in our estimation. We allow our thoughts and attention to drift to things that easily consume our senses - including our common sense! To focus is not easy, but perhaps there is another advantage of never walking alone - what one may not see in their distraction another may warn them about.
- Don't think you are above falling. Pride plays many a nasty trick on us, allowing us to think we are "better than" or "not ever gonna". We somehow place ourselves in a very vulnerable position when we think our falling won't happen - for none of us is above losing our "footing" in this walk. An antidote to pride is humility - and I believe this may be the other reason God gives us each other to walk with in this journey. My accountability partners actually help to hold me to task and keep me grounded when I get to thinking of myself as better than another.
- Don't think your fall went unnoticed. Every missed step in life is observed - they leave their mark! Those marks live on for a longer time than we may want them to - in the form of emotional, spiritual, and physical scars. We cannot deny there was something "behind" them - for they reveal a moment or season in time when our focus was distracted, our pride dealt us a blow, or our isolation caused us to be "unprotected" in a most vulnerable time. While scars will eventually fade a little, they always leave a tell-tale sign that something happened.
Lastly, I'd have to say that when we do fall, we need to remember God is there to help us get up quickly. He is the one there to brush us off and help to "clean us up". We don't have to do that ourselves, despite our desire to just "manage it" on our own. Just sayin!