“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.”
Worth the Sacrifice
There are certain lessons which make me wonder, “Why did Jesus say that?” Did he really mean “cut off my hand?” What happens as sin continues in my life? Does the other hand get cut off? Do the arms, feet, legs, and finally, the head follow?
Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation. Nor does he teach that this will get me into heaven. Instead his lesson makes very clear the danger of sin—that if I continue in the course of sin, it can destroy my faith, separate me from God, and land me in hell frever.
My sinful thoughts and desires lead my hands to offend and my eyes to lust and my feet to stray from the way God teaches me to live. And I admit that I am prone to commit some particular sins. This is why Jesus uses the illustration of “cutting off one’s hand.” My Lord teaches me that to avoid falling into them, I need to separate myself from them.
Doctors take no pleasure in amputating arms and legs that are hopelessly infected; they only do it to save the patient’s life. Jesus is talking about spiritual surgery. For my eternal good, he tells me to cut myself off from sinful habits and turn away from sinful practices.
I know too well, though, how difficult it is to deny myself something that my sinful heart desires or refuse to follow where my sinful desires urge me to go. But I can do this through Jesus who gives me strength. I can make this kind of sacrifice by trusting in Jesus’ undeserved and sacrificial love for me. His love brought him to this earth to live under the demands of his Father’s holy Law—he never gave in to the temptations to sin. His love led him to the cross to suffer and die to take away my guilt for all the times that I do give in to sin. His love drove him to endure the very pains of death and hell so I could have eternal life.
Jesus’ love lifts me up and gives me the strength to deny what my sinful heart tells me is precious or profitable. Jesus’ love leads me to follow him regardless of the cost, because when all is said and done, it is worth the sacrifice.
(Christian Worship: 125)
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast save in the death of Christ, my God.
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood.
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a tribute far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.