"And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Matt. 5:29,30).
These words are quite difficult to accept. How can Jesus expect me to literally pluck out my eye, or cut off my hand? What a ridiculous thing to request!
However outrageous these words may appear, we must search to understand what message the perfect Teacher wanted to convey.
As we back up to gather the context of these instructions, Jesus is discussing
adultery. He tells His disciples to avoid not only the act of adultery, but
the thoughts of the heart that
lead to adultery. In fact, Jesus says, "that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:27,28). Isn't it odd that Jesus would tell us that sin really takes place in the heart, and then immediately tells us that the remedy is physical surgery?
Perhaps these surgical instructions are more spiritual than they first appear.
Jesus seems to be telling us to eliminate from our lives whatever causes us
to sin. Is it the eye that
causes us to sin, or is there some control system that governs the eye? The same question must be asked of the hand.
Jesus is telling us to gain control of our bodies and use them for good rather than evil. But in order to develop such control there may be drastic steps that must be taken to remove special temptations from our lives. In Acts 19, the converted Ephesians take drastic measures to help ensure their focus as Christians. After the true miracles of God are manifested in Ephesus, the magicians of the town (especially the seven sons of Sceva) are shown to be worthless frauds. "And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the Word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed" (Acts 19:18-20).
What drastic measures -- burning approximately $10,000 worth of magic books! They could have kept them around the house as keepsakes, or sold them for a profit. These fine examples teach us, in part, what it means to perform necessary surgery.
Get rid of that which draws you under it control and away from the Lord. It
may take such necessary actions to give you the control of those eyes or hands
that God requires of
each of us.
By Josh Lankford in Son Rays, Vol. 29, No. 23, Sept. 2, 2007.
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