“If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.
9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell fire.
Whatever leads you astray, get rid of it!
Aron Ralston faced a drastic decision. In 2003, hiking alone in the Utah mountains, he was trapped when a shifting boulder pinned him by the arm. After five days, he had exhausted his small supply of water and food, and still could not free himself. He faced certain death unless he could amputate his own arm! A stark choice; – life with one hand, or death with two hands. No action meant death. His dramatic story of survival is now told in a book and a movie.
Jesus presents a similar shocking choice. In the blunt, confronting style of an Eastern teacher, he says, “If your hand offend you, cut it off!- or your foot, or your eye!” Whatever spoils your faith, get rid of it!
In this case I do not take Jesus’ words literally. But I do take them seriously!
Do I need to take some radical action to be free of the thing that is leading me astray, dragging me down, causing me to sin and leading me to hell? Like an athlete running in a race, let’s put off everything heavy and unhelpful, and “the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” (Heb 12:1-2)
Geoff Francis is a retired General Practitioner, and the author and editor of this website.