We were hiking a trail in N. Georgia near the eastern continental divide when we came upon a young healthy tree at least a foot in diameter that had been smashed under a huge old tree that had blown over in some storm. The younger tree was absolutely crushed and broken to the ground by the fall of a tree at least 4 times its size. I had to wait a few minutes for Dene to catch up before I could show her this scene. We’ve seen blow-downs of several trees at once, but this was the first time for a young adult tree crushed by another larger tree. Since I once read too much science fiction, I could not help but think of it from the young tree’s perspective. “There I was, growing and healthy and strong, when suddenly this huge, older, stronger tree crashed right on top of me. I never had a chance.”
Is that not a familiar sight among Christians? When one who is older and more mature stumbles or falls, the damage is seldom repaired by his repentance. In his fall, he crushes the life out of younger trees from seedlings to saplings to even full grown. It seems that the more mature the sinner the greater the collateral damage. Some may fall into the same or similar sins; some may be spiritually traumatized and need prayer and counseling to get back to the same level they once were, if they ever do; some may just give up with the thought that if he fell, what chance do I have?
For this reason, we urge all to place their faith in God, not in any man; faith in Christ, not in a personality. But, it is still true that we look to some who exemplify faith in action, whose conduct shows Christ in them and whom we look to as spiritual fathers we wish to emulate. Should such a one even stumble, it causes cracks in our shields, makes our knees quake and dulls our swords. If they fall, many will be spiritually devastated.
We are not alone in having passed through some trying times. Sometimes, it seemed that all that kept us going in the faith was the thought of the impact our fall would have on our sons. At other times when tempted, a primary deterrent was what it would do to other Christians if they ever found out. Maybe this seems less strong than the one who stands in the strength of his own faith and overcomes by himself for himself, but one cannot help but believe that the one who served others finds such concerns to be noble motives.
Though a fallen tree cannot right itself, sometimes a fallen saint does. He may even go onward and upward in his faith and influence others to stronger faith. But he can never undo the damage he did to “these little ones” during his sin and the tears of his regrets will never cease to flow.
Not everyone who falls ceases to attend.
The righteous are often tempted. These thoughts are offered to warn in order that they "stand, and having done all, STAND" and never yield.
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.
But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of his righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them shall he die.