“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. 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. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 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 than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ “
Jeff Reed, Senior Pastor
Hillside Covenant Church (Walnut Creek)
We do it all the time. We compare two open choices and choose the way that promises our advantage. Do my tedious homework, or flunk the class? We sigh and settle down to our studies, knowing the relative value of temporary relief versus long-term educational goals. To not do so would be at best odd, and at worst a sign of illness.
When we are confronted by harder choices, the principle remains exactly the same: determine to choose the way of advantage. So Jesus says: Eternity in hell or lop off your right hand? That’s relatively easy. I mean, one can relearn to write with the left hand, and we even have anesthesia to help ease the lopping! Jesus offers another scenario: Hell, the unquenchable fire, or lose a foot? Put it that way, and hopping around doesn’t sound so bad. Not to mention the widespread availability of crutches and special shoes. Jesus continues: Eternity in hell or poke out one eye? That’s easy too. Eye-poking makes me extremely squeamish for sure, but describe the alternative as “an unquenchable fire where the worm does not die,” and I know my choice.
The point of all this? Be consistent in the really big things just as you are in small things! If you are willing to suffer gargling salt water for a sore throat, be willing to suffer the discipline and the cost of being the people Jesus calls us to be. It might get hard, but not that hard.
Keep me clear-headed, Jesus, and willing to count all things loss for the surpassing value of knowing you deeply and personally.