This is what God gave me today in His word:
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
Some fairly radical thinking going on here. Now, cutting off limbs, and poking out eyes, isn’t what God actually wants us to do, is it? What happened to taking care of our body, “because it’s the temple of God”? Certainly its true that it’s better to go to Heaven missing an arm then it is to go to Hell intact, but surely Jesus doesn’t actually expect us to cut off an arm!
Well of course Christ doesn’t want us to hack off limbs! That would be downright pagan. No, rather, as He sometimes does, He’s speaking figuratively. He’s trying to make the point that it doesn’t matter what you have to do, it’s worth salvation. Even if you have to “cut off an arm”; even if you have to sell your TV to break an addiction to it. To put it simply: Jesus is talking about cutting off access to sin.
There are plenty of things to capture our attention; plenty of idols to take up the space where Jesus belongs. We’ve got computers, TVs, not to mention sports, cars, sport cars, etc.. But if any one of them threatens to take up residence in our heart, we are to cut off our access to it. Jesus died in order to save us, and so that He and He alone could claim possession over our minds, bodies, and hearts. The last thing He wants is something that is merely temporary taking up what is, by right, His throne. Thus the commandment to get away from whatever is causing us to sin.
There are two things we’re to do:
- Radical amputation.
- Radical pursuit.
Radical amputation is what we’ve already discussed; “radically amputating” whatever is causing us to sin. The second is just as important as the first; radically pursuing Jesus. Here’s an example my dad once used, “Subtraction without addition equals multiplication.” When one demon is “subtracted”, but Jesus is not “added”, we end up with more problems than the one we started out with it; the demons “multiply”. Which is why, once Jesus gives us the strength to overcome whatever difficulty that we’re facing, we need to replace the sin struggle with some form of ministry; we need to radically pursue Christ. Something we see Jesus Himself supporting just a couple of verses after the ones we originally looked at:
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:40-45)
Jesus tells also says this,
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’(K) (Matthew 25:40)
When we “go the extra mile”, we’re doing it for Christ. When we love our enemies, we’re loving Christ. – We’re radically pursuing Him. So, let’s not multiply, let’s just stick with adding and subtracting.
You are Loved!