“If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away”

Scripture:  Matthew 5:27-32

27 “You have heard that it was said, `You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body  be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole  body go into hell.  31 “It was also said, `Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  32 But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Meditation: What does Jesus mean when he says “pluck out your eye “ or “cut off your hand and throw it away” if it leads you to sin?  Is he exaggerating here?  Jesus used forceful language to urge his disciples to choose for life — a life of joy and happiness with God — rather than for death — an unending life of horrible misery and separation from the loving presence of an all-good God.  Jesus set before his disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the conformity of our will with God and what he desires for our well-being and happiness with him.  Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which inevitably leads to spiritual death.  Jesus warns us of the terrible responsibility that we must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin.  The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.

Jesus teaches that righteousness involves responding to every situation in life in a way that fulfill’s God’s law, not just externally but internally as well.  Jesus says that evil desires spring from the heart. That is why the sin of adultery must first be dealt with in the heart, the place not only of the emotions, but the mind, will, thought, and intentions as well.  God’s intention and ideal from the beginning was for man and woman to be indissolubly united in marriage as “one flesh” (see Genesis 2:23-24 ).  That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve.  They were created for each other and for no one else.  They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come.  Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal (see Mark 10:2-9). Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.  Jesus gives grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life — whether married or single. If we want to live righteously we must understand the intention of God’s commands and decide in our heart to obey the Lord.  The Lord writes his law on our hearts and gives us his power to live his way of righteousness and holiness.  Do you trust in God’s love and allow his Holy Spirit to fill you with a thirst for righteousness and holiness?

“Lord, begin a new work of love within me.  Instill in me a greater love for your commandments. Give me a burning desire to live  a life of righteousness and holiness.  Purify and transform me that I may be fully conformed into the likeness of Christ.”

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(c) 2002 Don Schwager