Goals, Distractions and Scandals

There seems to be a lot of scandals in the news lately, many with great consequences. I doubt that anyone wakes up and says, “I think I want to be the focus of a scandal today,” yet we see people ruined by scandal almost daily. 

Over the years I have watched a lot of people start out well. They have a dream and empowered by hope of obtaining that dream, they set a goal for themselves and then set a series of smaller goals in order to attain the main goal. They work hard checking off the smaller goals as they reach them but somewhere along the way they get distracted. Some abandon their goal. Others seem to attain their goal but end badly, often in Scandal. I have seen far too many who start well but end badly. Why is that? I believe along the path one walks in order to attain their goal they lack character and get distracted.

Distractions come in many forms but I believe they can be placed in two categories which are described by two Greek words in the New Testament of the Bible. Interestingly enough we get our word “Scandal” from these words.

The first word in the Greek is Skandalizo, often translated, offend, stumble, or fall. The context of the verses where this word is used will help us to understand and to see the distractions and their source. The distraction could be something I see and want but is not in my best interest. It could be something I or someone else is doing that can offend, stumble, or cause me or others to fall into ruin. Often times one is unaware of the danger because the activity can be quite common, that is everyone is doing it, but not always. An example might be that I am saving for college (the goal) but I see a cool car I want and so I spent my collage saving on the car and therefore I am not be able to afford college. I could stumble or offend if I were to convince someone who is saving for college to buy a cool car like the one I just bought thus spending their savings. These are somewhat innocent examples but a person who tries to feed the need for self-gratification can be distracted by many harmful things or behaviors that can bring themselves and others to ruin.

The second Greek word used is Skandalon. It is most often translated stumbling block or stumble. In the Greek it is defined as the trigger on the trap where the bait is put. Think temptations. Addictions readily fall into this category, but there are other things as well. Again the verses where this word is used help us develop a deeper understanding. I will list all the verses for these two words on our website; creeksidechristianfellowship.com, in the “Another Thought” section. This is much more harmful and it has in mind a target, hence the trap.

To protect ourselves from falling into ruin or scandal, we need to develop wisdom, perseverance and character. I really like the book of Proverbs for gaining wisdom. After all, it was written for those who would be leaders and achievers. However, knowing wisdom is not enough. Wisdom must be understood so it can be applied correctly. The Bible calls this knowledge. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear (respect) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (NASB) To respect God and His wisdom is where we need to start. If we reject God and trust in the ever changing wisdom of the world we are likely to find ourselves trapped and stumbled.

God is our greatest cheerleader. He wants us to avoid the traps, care for, and be an example to others. He wants us to have Godly character and be successful in obtaining good goals. We need to understand that along the way there are many distractions, (traps with bait) just waiting for us to let our guard down so we can stumble and fall into ruin. Developing character is much like developing muscle. It’s a process of exercise. Learning, observing, and putting what we learn into practice is to practice discipline. Discipline is not always easy but it is absolutely essential if we are to reach our goal. Paul describes the process in Romans 5:1-5, so does James in James chapter 1 and Peter in 2nd Peter chapter 1. I also recommend reading a chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 31 chapters. Most months you can read through the book. Keep repeating it. Everyone that I know who has done this wishes they had started reading it when they were younger, including me. Still the best time to start is now.

May God bless and guide you in the pursuit of your goals.
Pastor Dave

Verses where Skandalizo, (fall to ruin), is used.

Matthew 5:29&30; 11:6; 13:21, 57; 15:12; 17:27; 18:6 ,8, 9; 24:10;26:31, 33
Mark 4:17; 6:3; 9:42, 43, 47,47; 14:27, 29
Luke 7:23; 17:2
John 6:61; 16:17
1 Corinthians 8:13
2 Corinthians 11:29

Verses where Skandalon, (the trigger of the trap where the bait is put) is used.

Matthew 13:41; 16:23; 18:7
Luke 17:1
Romans 9:33; 11:9; 14:13; 16:17:
1 Corinthians 1:23
Galatians 5:11
1 Peter 2:8
1 John 2:10
Revelation 2:14

Anyone can benefit from following the wisdom in the Bible. You don’t have to be a Christian to put the Word of God into practice and have a better life as a result. However Jesus said, What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36 NASB What is the benefit of reaching the greatest goal and yet end up ruined? Skandalizo In the 23rd Psalm verse 3 says God wants to and is more than willing to guide us in paths of righteousness. These paths are well worn paths of righteousness, well-traveled over the ages, dependable and sure. The one who leads us is trustworthy. Have you given your life to the Lord? Have you made Jesus Your Lord and Savior? If not, why not make this your first and most important goal? I guarantee it is one decision you will never regret. Maybe you have stumbled over Jesus today. If you did, He is holding out His hand to lift you up and give you new life. Follow the link below to take His hand. Psalm 37:23&24 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” NASB