Journal Entry // April 30, 2023
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (ESV)Matthew 5:29–30
As Jesus continues his teaching on correctly interpreting the Law, he emphasizes his points by way of practical application. In dealing with anger we are to seek reconciliation both with man and God. In dealing with lust we are to be intentional and ruthless. Ruthless not with a person but with the temptations, instruments, and pathways to sin. In the passage before us now, Jesus is using hyperbole to get this point across. The point being that we are not to have a lite version of sin and temptation. We are to be wise in our understanding of temptation and realize the weakness of our flesh. We are to take seriously the battle for our hearts. In our fight with the enemy, we are to be ruthless and intentional in our commitment to obedience and faith through Christ.
What is it that leads me down the path of temptation and into sin? This is the question Jesus is wanting me to really understand and grasp in my life. This is the question that will ultimately lead me to humble obedience. What is it in my life that captures my heart and lures me away from my Savior? These are the things that Jesus is wanting me to be intentional and ruthless about in my fight for obedience. It’s not enough to just see my sin after the fact. When lust has gripped my heart and my lustful intent has driven me down the path of sin, it is a beautiful mercy that there is forgiveness in repentance and faith. To be sure, Jesus will forgive me as I turn to him in humble repentance again and again. There is never a point where I cannot turn from my sin and find the mercy of Jesus.
Yet, Jesus is calling me to something more intentional and engaging. He is calling me to a life of holiness and faith. A life where I am so in love with Jesus that I am willing to do anything to keep that relationship pure and unstained. Even willing to gouge out my eye or cut off my hand if they are causing me to sin. A ruthless intention to holiness. In practicality, I don’t see Jesus calling me to physically do either of these actions he mentions in the passage, but I do see him calling me to examine my heart and find those areas of my life that I do need to gouge out and cut off. It could be something simple like my phone or computer that captures my attention and leads me into temptation. It could be a sport that I am overly consumed with that dominates my time and even love. It could be an unhealthy relationship with a woman other than my wife. It could be a myriad of different things that are distracting me from faithfulness to Jesus.
The call from Jesus is to examine my heart. To really dig down and understand what it is that is leading me into temptation and sin. A call to seek the truth in the root cause of my disobedience and hard-heartedness. A call to not be satisfied with continual repetitive sin. It is a call to seek humility before Jesus. To come helpless and desperate before him. To see my sin and failure for what it truly is… rebellion and hatred against my true heavenly-loving Father. A call to have him open my eyes and my mind to the ugliness in my heart and for me to lay my weakness before him.
My prayer is a simple one. My prayer is for Jesus to reveal the things in my life that are capturing my heart for sin. Then once revealed, to actually fight to remove these stumbling blocks that hinder my faithful walk with Jesus. Some of these I will need to remove from my life through the grace of mercy of Christ. Some of these I will need the Lord to take away himself. Either way, I need to embrace humility and desperation. I need to see that my faithful obedience to Christ and his commandments is essential to a loving relationship. His burden is light. What Jesus is calling me to do is light and easy. He is not adding extra burdens. He is calling me to remove these heavy burdens that weigh me down with sin and guilt and pick up his burden of obedience. For it is in humble obedience to Christ, that I find freedom. Freedom to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.