Handhold, Splintered Reed or Stumbling Block?

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Handhold, Splintered Reed or Stumbling Block?

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The other day I was reading the introductory essay in the book Random Acts of Kindness. The author of the essay, Dawna Markova, talked about having heard Maya Angelou tell of a horrible childhood survived because of "handholds." These "handholds" were people she had never met, who did not know her, but who had inspired her with their music, their art, or their words. These things encouraged her to be more than she would have imagined possible, and Maya Angelou's words inspired Ms. Markova to embrace random acts of kindness and to ask workshop guests to think about those who have been kind to them and to remember their own acts of kindness.

I think we can take this a little further, right into the heart of who we are as Christians. Every day we interact with others, whether within our own family, with our coworkers, or countless members of the public. If we are seeking to emulate Christ, can we then claim, that we are not role models? No that is nonsense! If we lay claim to newness of life, that life must be reflected in the way we live and we must expect to be seen in every kind of light, by every kind of person.

So what are we to be? Are we a handhold for others? Do we make it easier for them to see Christ? Do we make it easier for them to cope with the harshness of life? Are we washing their feet from the dust of the long journey we all must walk?  Can we be relied on, to listen, to forgive, to help? Or are we, as Egypt is called in 2 Kings 18:21 2 Kings 18:21Now, behold, you trust on the staff of this bruised reed, even on Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust on him.
American King James Version×
(KJV), a broken or splintered reed, which when leaned on gives way and injures the person needing help? Or indeed, are we a stumbling block, tripping people up and preventing their progress?

In 1 Timothy 4:12-16 1 Timothy 4:12-16 [12] Let no man despise your youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. [14] Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. [15] Meditate on these things; give yourself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. [16] Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.
American King James Version×
(NKJV), Paul instructs Timothy, "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

Paul points out the importance of our own growth, not just for our sake but for the sake of those around us, who watch and listen to us. In Romans 14:12-13 Romans 14:12-13 [12] So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. [13] Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
American King James Version×
(NKJV), Paul writes that "…each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way."

We cannot call people to Christianity; that is something that is reserved for God. However, we can serve to make the way plainer...or we can make it more difficult. If we are obscuring Christ through our attitudes and treatment of others, then we are a stumbling block or a splintered reed. How much better it is to be a handhold in the darkness, an encourager in a time of weakness and fear. As Christ is our anchor and help, we must endeavor to be the same to those around us at all times.

To learn more about our example and role model please reference our free online study guide Jesus Christ: The Real Story.