Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
    whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the Lord are right,
    and the upright walk in them,
    but transgressors stumble in them.  Hosea 14:9

There is a harsh reality to the business world.  There are rules, almost like laws of nature, that are in effect.  You can sometimes get away with bending them but over time they will enforce themselves on those who ignore them.  If you treat your customers poorly, over time they will defect to your competitors.  If you fail to insure adequately, eventually a catastrophic loss will shut you down.  If you want to stay in business, you learn how to cooperate with those rules. 

None of us are born knowing how to perform customer management or risk mitigation.  Those who want to avoid being disciplined by these harsh realities have to study them.  We practice, learn, grow, and hopefully share with others as we go.  Any time you get a gang of old business people together you will hear some stories about lessons they were taught by the market.

Our text for today indicates that the Lord has established similar dynamics in the world for our spiritual development.  The Lord’s way is the right way.  Are there other paths?  Of course.  Can you make decisions to take one of those different paths?  Sadly, yes.  Sad, because if you do, there is some stumbling in your future. 

God’s way doesn’t change.  The laws He established for how the world works are always in effect.  If we seek to live in God’s world (as, at some level, we all must) and yet want to dabble in drunkenness or pornography, expect the laws of God’s universe to bring you down.  If you decide to use anger, or selfishness, or violence to deal with the problems that confront you, sooner or later you can expect God’s world to discipline you. 

It turns out, just like the laws of the marketplace, we weren’t born knowing God’s laws of the universe.  If we want to walk in accordance with them, we have to study them.  We have to practice and get help from those who have more experience than we do.  This is the work of salvation and sanctification combined.  It is also the work of lifetimes.

Just for today, confess what you are doing that is not “the way of the Lord” and reach out for whatever can help you conform to that way.  Who knows how much stumbling you will save yourself by that one act of humility.