Ah, but those jalapenos do leave their mark. Ordinarily I wash my hands half a dozen times during the course of cooking dinner, but I had finished with the raw chicken, the creamy avocado, and the sweet, slick mango so I hadn't washed them again after dicing that pepper and never even thought about it.
After dinner we made our usual after-dinner-before-dishes walk to survey our little realm. Keith absently reached down and held my hand. Then he just as absently reached up with that same hand and scratched his eyelid. At least it was his lid. About the same time Chloe came up behind me and licked my dangling hand. The next thing I knew Keith had a clean cloth up to dab his running eye and Chloe was at the water bucket lapping as quickly as she could. I came inside and washed my hands immediately.
We are often just as clueless as I was today about the influence we have on others. One word, one thoughtless act, even one look can have repercussions that last for days, or weeks, or even years. Paul reminded the Corinthians that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" and told Timothy that the words of two specific men "eat like gangrene" (1 Cor 5:6; 2 Tim 2:17).
The prevalent attitude I hear, even among brothers and sisters, is "That's their problem." No. God makes it plain that it is my problem when my influence causes others to fall. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1Cor 8:13) And whosoever shall cause one of these little ones that believe on me to stumble, it were better for him if a great millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
It's time we grew up and realized our responsibility to others. We will be judged for every "idle word," Jesus says. That's a word we said without thought, without concern for others, without owning up to our responsibility for every little thing that escapes our tongues. James says "Be…slow to speak…" not because you are slow-witted but because I am actually taking the time to consider what I am about to say before it's too late. Sounds like an excellent reason to shut up once in a while, especially if I am prone to talk just to hear myself talk. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Prov 10:19)
Don't forget to wash the jalapenos off your hands.
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! Luke 17:11