If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched– where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire– where ‘Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:43-48)
Hand, Foot And Eye
Jesus could preach some hard lessons. There were occasions His own disciples chided Him because He offended some with His teaching. It is clear from the ministry of the Lord His purpose was singular. Matthew 23 is a fiery condemnation of the hypocrisy of the Jewish elite who put themselves above the Law. Jesus told His disciples that many would not like what He had to say about divorce in Matthew 19. In the final days of His life the Son of God declared there was only one way to the Father, one truth to salvation and one life in Him. Tough words. Consider His teaching on distractions of life.
Our hands are very precious to us. With them we are able to engage in a full life in contrast to the handicap of missing one or both hands. Our feet are also very precious to life as they give us the mobility to live a productive life. There is no doubt how priceless our eyes are to life. When any one of these members is damaged or lost it makes life hard. Losing a hand or foot or eye would cause great concern. However, the teaching of Jesus suggests a challenging lesson about those things that are important in life that we are willing to voluntarily forgo so that we can rise to the glory of God.
Jesus does not tell His disciples to literally remove these parts of the body but to look at things in life as to what is of value and what is not. The lesson is of values. If our hand caused us to lose our soul would we be willing to cut it off? Would we follow the same course with our feet or eyes? What is of greater importance in life? What we have here in a temporary way or what we will lose if we go into eternity with everything intact? These are tough questions. The answers are more difficult.
The rich young ruler was not willing to give up his riches. Some refuse to turn from false doctrine to save their souls. Many follow the pleasures of this life unprepared for a life without end. So often in our lives we are put into positions of temptations because we will not remove certain things from our lives so that we can live holy before God. If watching television caused you to sin would you be willing to get rid of it. If pornography is a constant temptation through the means of the internet would it not be better to cut it off here than to be cut off there? What if our job was not conducive to our spiritual welfare and we refused to give it up because we trusted in it more than God? Friends help us identify who we are but if they are not helping us be lights in a world of darkness are we willing to retain them and lose our soul?
The challenge of cutting off our hands, feet and eyes is a lesson of how devoted we want to be to the Lord. Life as child of God is a life of crucifixion. There are choices to be made. Sometimes these choices are the hardest decisions we will ever make in life. But these choices are about where we will spend eternity. Nothing else matters. How sad it will be to lose our soul because we were unwilling to give something up here.
In so far as man himself, consecrated by God’s name and dedicated to God, dies to the world that he may live for God, he is a sacrifice. (St. Augustine, The City of God, X, 426)