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FIRST-PERSON: When a good man stumbles

COLUMBUS, Ga. (BP) — It’s frustrating when you break a tool from your workshop. Most of us have been working away diligently in the backyard only to have a tool break when we needed it most. The frustration is even greater when you never imagined it would break on you.

Deep in the back of our mind we all know that any tool can fail at any time. But often we use the same tool repeatedly and subconsciously start to believe it will never let us down.

This is just a subtle example of what happens when a “good man” stumbles.

The term “good man” I’m using here doesn’t mean perfect. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect man apart from Jesus Christ, the only perfect man who ever lived. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. He, according to Hebrews 4:15, never stumbled in his faith or ever committed a sin.

The term “good man” I’m referring to is a guy who generally delivers in a specific situation. Maybe it’s a baseball player who never drops a fly ball. Maybe it’s the guy at work who never shows up late or your neighbor who always mows his lawn on Saturday mornings.

When that ballplayer drops the easy fly ball, everybody in the crowd moans. Any ballplayer can miss the fly ball but when this guy misses it’s highly unusual. If your coworker shows up 30 minutes late to work, it’s probably going to get your attention. If you wake up next Saturday morning and the neighbor isn’t mowing his lawn, it’s going to make you wonder what’s wrong with your neighbor.

Likewise, when a good man stumbles, it catches our attention. We’re caught off-guard and often not sure what to say. That’s a natural response. However, what’s the appropriate response?

The obvious answer is to go help him up. When your coworker is running 30 minutes late to work, stop him at break and ask if anything is wrong or if there is anything you can do for him. It shows your coworker that you care. When your neighbor didn’t mow his lawn on Saturday morning, why don’t you find out if there’s anything you can do for him? Go knock on his door and ask if you can mow the lawn for him.

When a good man stumbles just a little bit it hurts us all because we all believe in the good man. We all want to see the good man get back up, brush himself off and restore what he lost when he stumbled.

There’s a brief example of this in Luke 23:26. Jesus has been sentenced to death. Crucifixion is the method that the Roman government will use to execute Him. This was a notoriously painful process. If you were to read between the lines in this verse, Jesus had been brutally beaten. The good man who did nothing wrong was sentenced to die for our mistakes (Isaiah 53:5).

After the beating, Jesus was forced to carry his own means of execution up a hill to the outskirts of town. This cross would have been large, heavy, rough-cut wood. Somewhere along this route Jesus stumbled. He no longer had the strength to carry the wooden cross to the top of Mount Calvary.

The Roman executioners were not about to give Him any mercy. They weren’t willing to slow down the pace of Jesus’ execution. They grabbed a man in the crowd by the name of Simon and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.

Imagine that you’re one of Jesus’ followers. You have believed Him to be the Son of God. You have staked your life on the claims that He’s making as God’s anointed. Maybe you and I can get a small glimpse at the shock Jesus’ disciples would have experienced when they watched their Savior stumble under the weight of that cross. When they saw this good man stumble it must have been devastating.

Notice, none of Jesus’ disciples ran over to help Him. They were terrified for their own lives and ran away instead of running to help their Savior. That’s why the Roman guards had to force an unknown man to carry Jesus’ cross.

When you see a good man stumble, rush over to help him up. When you stumble, be willing to lean on somebody to help you get back up and get on your feet. It’s part of the common human condition — we all have stumbled in the past and will stumble again in the future. We all need somebody like Simon to be there when we can’t bear the weight anymore.

If you have stumbled and made a big mess of your life, it’s not too late for you. This is the very reason Jesus was willing to carry His cross in the first place. His death and resurrection make it possible for sinful men and women to be made right with God through repentance of their sins and faith in Jesus Christ. Only when people surrender their lives to Him can they stand before a holy God.

    About the Author

  • Jeff Struecker

    Jeff Struecker is the pastor for leadership and teaching at Calvary Baptist Church (church.calvaryministries.com) in Columbus, Ga. Struecker is a retired Army Ranger (online at jeffstruecker.com) who has served as a chaplain and pastor since 2000 and authored five books. This column is adapted from The Christian Index (www.christianindex.com), newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

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