March 20, 2012: The Twenty-Fourth Day of Lent
March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.
~ Matthew 5.29, 30 ~
After speaking about the importance of dealing with the heart-level issues of immorality, Jesus uses some exaggeration and overstatement to drive home his point. Jesus tells his audience that if one has reached a level of improper action before taking steps to fix their relationships with God and others, one has waited too long. Such issues must be addressed when they first manifest in the heart.
When dealing with these kinds of issues, one must take decisive action. Christ does not tell his audience to dismember themselves, but he makes the point that temptation isn’t something to be trifled with. As citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we need to be ready to make sacrifices for the sake of being pure in heart. It would be far better to nip evil intentions, motives, and desires in the bud before they mature and gain the ability to drag people out of God’s Kingdom.
Again, this teaching is difficult to hear; but, we remember that Christ calls us to a higher standard. Is there are relationship in your life that is heading in an inappropriate direction? Christ says that it’s better to end the relationship now than to continue and suffer the damage later. What of the things you read and watch? If they cause you to think in inappropriate ways, it’s far better to take a step back from those things than to continually expose yourself to them and think, “I’ll be fine; they don’t harm me.”
The difficulty here lies with the fact that, in many ways, we have become comfortable toeing the line or jumping over it. We can be truly brilliant when it comes to rationalizing things we don’t want to give up. We must make the difficult step of asking the Holy Spirit to show us what things cause us to stumble. We must be willing to hear what he says. However, we take comfort in the fact that God gives grace to move us along this road of spiritual growth. Even our growth comes from relationship: just as Christ has committed himself to us to bring us into the Kingdom, we must remain committed to him and the grace that he provides.
Lord Christ, I don’t want to give things up. It’s easier to stay where I am; besides, I can’t see what’s so harmful about some things. Please open my eyes to see things as you see them, and give me strength to make changes and resist temptation as you guide me. Amen.