My Brother’s Keeper
Luke 17:1,2 Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea…
Last night, I dreamt that I displayed inappropriate photos of women on my blog. I was horrified to discover them and could not figure out how to remove them. I did not, in my dream, learn why I did would do such a thing. I only felt the terror of being discovered as a fraud and at encouraging other men to view such material. My blog had become a conduit for lust and smut.
It is funny writing it now, but I truly woke up in a panic. Unlike most dreams though, I know where this one came from. Yesterday, as I contemplated Jesus’ words from this passage, I was trying to remember if I had ever been the one through whom temptation came to others. Surely, I have never encouraged others to engage in destructive behavior? Well, maybe I have, but am I my brother’s keeper?
Jesus warning in this passage is based on an underlying truth: My behavior affects those around me and I am, in turn, affected by their behavior. Though everyone is responsible for his or her own choices, we all bear some responsibility, according to Christ, for those around us.
There are two lessons here. First, I am to live my life in such a manner that does not drag down those around me. When I engage in destructive behavior, it often assuages my guilt to have others join me. I do not feel so bad in gossiping about someone if I can get my brother to say evil things as well. If I am getting intoxicated with other Christians, it must be OK, right?
When my guilt becomes uncomfortable, the appropriate response is to stop the behavior causing the guilt. My natural response however, is to find comfort in the misery of like-minded company.
The second lesson, is that I am, whether I like it or not, affected by those with whom I surround myself. If I struggle with an addiction, I cannot continue living with those actively engaging in that addiction. I will fail 100% of the time if I am surrounded by the destructive behavior that I am trying to abandon.
Many an addict has learned this bitter lesson. He or she wants desperately to leave behind destructive behavior but lacks the conviction to make the radical changes necessary. But that is my family! He or she then returns to the same living environment, only to be tempted beyond ability to resist. The failure was not in resisting temptation. The failure was in exposing oneself to temptation in the first place.
We know this truth and we are responsible for it. If we choose to surround ourselves with those who encourage us on to destructive behavior, we have already made our choice. Likewise, if we are the ones through whom temptation comes, Woe to us! It would be better to have a millstone hung around our necks and be cast into the sea.
I shall strive to keep my blog photos clean…
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.