`In many things we all stumble.' -- Jas. 3:2
This word of God by James is the description of what man is, even the Christian, when he is not kept by grace. It serves to take away from us all hope in ourselves. (Rom. 7:14,23; Gal. 6:1) `Now unto Him that is able to guard you from stumbling ... be glory, majesty, dominion, and power ... forevermore' (Jude 24,25). This word of God by Jude points to Him who can keep from falling, and stirs up the soul to ascribe to Him the honour and the power. It serves to confirm our hope in God. (2 Cor. 1:9; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 2:16,17; 3:3) `Brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble' (2 Pet. 1:10). This word of God by Peter teaches us the way in which we can become partakers of the keeping of the Almighty: the confirmation of our election by God in a godlike walk (see verses. 4,8,11). It serves to lead us into diligence and conscientious watchfulness. (Matt. 26:41; Luke 12:35; 1 Pet. 1:13; 5:8-10)
For the young Christian, it is often a difficult question what he ought to think of his stumblings. On this point, he ought especially to be on his guard against two errors. Some become dispirited when they stumble: they think that their surrender was not sincere, and lose their confidence towards God. (Heb. 3:6,14; 10:35) Others again take it too lightly. They think that it cannot be otherwise: they concern themselves little with stumblings, and continue to live in them. (Rom. 6:1; Gal. 2:18; 3:3) Let us take these words of God to teach us what we ought to think of our stumblings. There are three lessons.
Let no stumblings discourage you. You are called to perfectness: yet this comes not at once: time and patience are needful for it. Therefore James says: `Let patience have its perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire. (Matt. 5:48; 2 Tim. 3:17; Heb. 13:20,21; Jas. 1:4; 1 Pet. 5:10) Think not that your surrender was not sincere; acknowledge only how weak you still are. Think not also that you must only continue stumbling: acknowledge only how strong your Saviour is.
Let stumbling rouse you to faith in the mighty keeper. It is because you have not relied on Him with a sufficient faith that you have stumbled. (Matt. 14:31; 17:20) Let stumbling drive you to Him. The first thing that you must do with a stumbling is: go with it to your Jesus. Tell it out to Him. (Ps. 38:18; 56:6; 1 John 1:9; 2:1) Confess it, and receive forgiveness. Confess it, and commit yourself with your weakness to Him, and reckon on Him to keep you. Sing continually the song: `To Him that is mighty to keep you, be the glory.'
And then, let stumbling make you very prudent. (Prov. 28:14; Phil. 2:12; 1 Pet. 1:17,18) By faith you shall strive and overcome. In the power of your keeper and the joy and security of His help, you shall have courage to watch. The firmer you make your election, the stronger the certitude that He has chosen you, and will not let you go, the more conscientious shall you become, to live in all things only for Him, in Him, through Him. (2 Chron 20:15; Ps. 18:30,37; 44:5,9; John 5:4,5; Rom. 11:20; 2 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 2:13) Doing this, the word of God says, you shall never stumble.
Lord Jesus, a sinner who is ready to stumble every moment would give honour to Thee, who art mighty to keep from stumbling: Thine is the might and the power: I take Thee as my keeper. I look to Thy love which has chosen me, and wait for the fulfilment of Thy word: `Ye shall never stumble.' Amen.
1. Let your thoughts about what the grace of God can do for you, be taken only from the word of God. Our natural expectations -- that we must just always be stumbling -- are wrong. They are strengthened by more than one thing. There is secret unwillingness to surrender everything. There is the example of so many sluggish Christians. There is the unbelief that cannot quite understand that God will really keep us. There is the experience of so many disappointments, when we have striven in our own power.
2. Let no stumbling be tolerated, for the reason that it is trifling.