Today’s reading was this passage again: Mark 9:43-49
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, 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. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, 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, 48 where
“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
The clear point of this passage is that, if you wish to enter the kind of life that Jesus has for you, you must deal drastically and decisively with anything that hinders that kind of life. The alternative is unthinkable – to be cast into hell.
The word used in the original text is Gehenna, a Greek word derived from the Hebrew: ge hinnom (“Valley of Hinnom”). It came to be used as a place where human excrement and rubbish, including animal carcasses were disposed of and burned. The fire of gehenna never went out, and the worms never died. So it came to be used symbolically of the place of divine punishment.
If we find that we are sinning with hand, foot or eye, then spiritual surgery is required.
I thought it might be interesting to think about how each of these physical entities might cause us to sin. The list is not all-inclusive, but might cause us to pause and think about whether we may be guilty in these areas.
As I am writing this, I’m conscious that I’m using my hand(s) to type. What do we type and to whom? I’ve dealt with a couple of situations in the course of my ministry where married or engaged persons have been sending inappropriate text messages to people who were not their partner. Our typing is another form of speech, and there are plenty of warnings (see the Book of James, chapter 3 for example) about being careful with our speech. Is what we type, who we type to, the places we link to on Facebook for example, wholesome or questionable?
This one is simple. Our feet take us where we want to go. But are they taking us to places we should not go? Places that lead us into temptation, or draw us back into habit and behaviors we know we should leave behind as ‘new creations.’
Again, pretty straightforward. What do we look at, in real life and on the computer? Is it wholesome? Does it lead us into good or evil thinking? The Old Testament writer Job made this comment:
“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.” (Job 31:1)
In the New Testament, we read this message from Paul to the Philippian church:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
We are to be the gatekeepers of our minds, and our eyes are the primary entry point.
If this is a struggle, there are plenty of tools to help. One is the book:
The other tools are software ones, which either prevent you from going to places you shouldn’t on the web, or report on you to an accountability partner if you do.
The reporting one is found at xxxchurch.com and is called X3Watch:
http://x3watch.com/ There is a free and a premium version.
The internet filtering one is called Safe Eyes, and you can check it out here:
http://www.internetsafety.com/ This works on both Macs and PCs.
If it leads you into sin, cut it off! Don’t get the knives out just yet. Jesus is using hyperbole, exaggeration to make a point, but deal drastically with that which hinders you entering the life that Jesus wants for you.