Stepping Stones

    My last post was about ‘stumbling blocks’. Our actions and decisions do affect those around us.God would rather us be ‘stepping stones’ for each other.

    Think of life as a mucky river (all the worldly sin & temptations) or raging rapids (the turmoil of bad things that happen). We need stepping stones, so we can stay out of the muck, stay on track and have a firm place to stand.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
  Psalm 40:2

    God gave us Himself (the ultimate gift), He gave us His Word for instruction, and He gives us prayer to communicate with Him. All of these are ‘stepping stones’ (if we use them). But, He has also given us each other, brothers and sisters in Christ.

A few ways we can be a Stepping Stone for others:

Love Each Other

    Jesus gave His disciples a new command, to love one another as HE has loved them. The love Jesus had for them, and has for us, is so great that he was willing to die for them, a sacrificial love. I believe this was a ‘new command’ because before Jesus’ ministry, they had never seen that kind of love. This kind of love is not a feeling nor an emotion, but it’s a decision. It’s only when we have the Spirit of God living within us, that we are able to love like that. Wow! If we ALL had that kind of love for each other, there would be less muck in our lives and a whole lot less turmoil!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

Encourage Each Other

    Most individuals have had some type of discouragement in their past. Maybe they were bullied in school, treated badly by someone they were to look up to and respect, or things just didn’t quite go as planned. To each this may have likely resulted in them feeling inadequate about themselves and discouraged. This, in turn, culminates poor choices in actions and decisions. We might be amazed what someone can do if they just have a little encouragement.   

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Support Each Other

    In Galatians 6:2, Paul tells us to carry each other’s burdens. That sounds ‘heavy’! Life can get tough! Many of us have felt overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, hopeless, alone and/or abandoned. Even though we know these things are not of God, we still struggle with them. But, God gave us each other. We listen to each other, we cry for each other, and we pray for each other because we were never meant to ‘do life’ alone.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Talk Positive of and to Each Other

    The words we choose can either be harmful or helpful.  Gossip can bring harm even though not spoken directly to the person. Gossip also doesn’t set a Christ-like example in us, and as I mentioned last week, we, as Christians, are always being watched.  Paul instructs us in Ephesians that our words should build each other up and benefit those who listen.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Forgive Each Other

   Matthew 6:14-15 indicates that forgiveness is NOT an option. If you want forgiven by God, you have to first forgive others.  Speaking from experience, this is no feeling like that of having forgiven someone, a feeling of freedom and a burden lifted. Timing is of the essence but, if you want to soften the heart of someone….offer them forgiveness.

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15

Put Others First

    We live in a selfish society. With businesses marketing to convince us of what we need, and our own selfish wants and desires, we tend to not consider the consequences of others. Putting others first takes discipline. Jesus is the perfect example of ‘putting others first’. He put all of us first when he died on the cross. None of us can top that for unselfishness!

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Gifts of the Spirit

    Discovering and implementing the Spiritual Gifts that God has blessed us with is another way of equipping us to become ‘stepping stones’ for each other. We are all uniquely gifted for a purpose. When we use the Gifts God has equipped us with, we, the body of Christ, fit together like a puzzle. Each has its place and purpose, therefore, providing ‘stepping stones’ for each other. For example, if I’m grieving, I need someone with the gift of Mercy. If a group is planning a Vacation Bible School, it needs someone gifted with leadership.

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 
so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them
…   Romans 12:4-6a

Think of someone in your life that is or has been a ‘stepping stone’ for your spiritual growth.

How are you being a ‘stepping stone’ to those around you?