Jump Start # 2710
Matthew 5:30 “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.”
Our verse for today is tough. It’s not for the faint of heart or sissies. And, that’s just the driving principle that Jesus is showing. There is an intensity to what we are doing. This is not just something done on weekends. It’s all in or it’s nothing. The verse before this is just as radical. It tells of plucking out your eye. These verses follow Jesus’ stern words about adultery, specifically, looking upon a woman. The wicked eye leads to wicked thoughts which in time lead to wicked actions. Stop it, is what Jesus is saying. Stop it by plucking out your eye or cutting off your right hand. Save yourself and do whatever you have to do to make it to Heaven.
First, most of us are right handed. It would be bad enough had the Lord said, ‘cut off your left hand.’ That would limit us and handicap us. But for most of us, we could still write letters, function some. I have played in a golf scramble in which on one hole each player had to hit the opposite of what they normally do. That’s was a disaster. Functioning without our right hand would be difficult. Some have had to do that because of an accident, disease or injury. But here, it’s done by choice. A person has chosen to cut off his right hand.
Second, once you cut your hand off, it’s not coming back. It’s not like losing a toe nail or cutting your hair. Amputation, that’s what cutting your hand off is, a serious surgery. In wars long ago, many died on the operating table while having limbs amputated. The Lord is talking about removing something forever. It’s not for a short while and then you’ll get it back. Once that right hand is cut off, it’s gone and it’s gone for good. This is a major, major sacrifice. There is no changing your mind once this was done. It would be hard enough to lose a finger, but the whole hand?
Third, the truth is, our right hand is not the cause of our stumbling. It’s our heart and our choices. It’s our eyes, our mouth and our weak faith that gets us into trouble. Cutting off your hand won’t stop temptation. This is not to say that we have discovered something that the Lord did not know. He certainly knew this. He is not expecting literal amputation. He was dramatically illustrating how serious we need to take things and to what cost we are willing to pay. Laying your hand on a table and allowing someone to chop it off is extreme. But is it any more extreme than laying on a wooden beam and allowing soldiers to pound nails into your hands and feet? Here is a person who wants to stop the bad behavior that he was doing. He is willing to lose a hand in order to save a soul. This is not being forced upon him. This was not an act of persecution. It was a choice made to change the course and the direction that he was heading.
And, with this extreme illustration, Jesus is telling us how serious we ought to be about our walk with Him. Christianity for some is just a weekend hobby. And, like most hobbies, we’d like to put more time into them, but often we just can’t. Other things come first. And, with that attitude, many do not put the Lord, nor His kingdom first. If the weather is nice, they will be at a park, not the church house. If the weather is lousy, they will stay warm and dry at home. But this is much, much more than getting down to the church house to worship. It’s about life. It’s about choices. It’s about how serious do we view sin. It’s about how serious we are about going to Heaven. In our world today, if I person lost his right hand, he’d likely lose his job. There are just too many things that he could not do with just one hand. And, it’s about how much of us we would be willing to part with in order to make it to Heaven. Our bodies don’t go to Heaven. Heaven is a spiritual realm. Paul told the Corinthians that those who are alive at the Lord’s coming will change. In a twinkling of an eye, they will change. They must change because here we are flesh and bones. Up there, we will be spiritual beings. So, our pretty hair, nice figure, massive muscles, good teeth, are just temporary. They are the wrapper. What we are is what’s inside. Keep your hand and lose your soul or lose your hand and save your soul? That’s what the Lord is trying to get the audience to see. We may have our hands, at the most, for a little over 100 years. Our souls? There is no end.
From this we ought to consider:
- How serious do we take our faith?
- How desperate are we to protect that faith?
- Are we bothered by temptation?
- Does it bother us to hear the Lord’s name blasphemed?
- If there was a price to pay for Heaven, would you pay it?
What if that cost were $10,000—would you pay it?
What if that cost were following Him daily—would you pay it?
What if that cost were living righteously—would you pay it?
What if that cost were no longer living, but allowing the Lord to live in you—would you pay it?
What if that cost was our right hand—would you pay it?
It is better to lose one part, than for the whole to be thrown into Hell. Sure makes a person think, doesn’t it?