Lessons from Life
Weekly Message
(formerly, the "One Minute Message")
  • Lessons from Life  (formerly, the "One Minute Message")

    "I believe this new name will be more descriptive of this message, and more in keeping with its mission and purpose."   - Randall Vaughn

Title:   "Chop Chop"
By Randall Vaughn

"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.  (Mat 5:29-30 NIV)

Jesus often said things that others found shocking.  The above scripture is no exception.

He talked about eating His flesh and drinking His blood, which was revolting to many of his listeners.  He said He existed before Abraham, the very idea of which His contemporaries considered ludicrous.

And this.  Telling people to maim and disfigure their bodies.

Shocking?  Yes.  Even for today, if you take His words literally.

His words seem so far removed from our "educated" and "enlightened" world.  But, are they really?

I have heard people repeat the old cliche,  "I would give my right arm for...",  but I do not believe they understood what they were really saying.

What is worth giving up something valuable, even irreplaceable, to attain?  What would you be willing to die for? Is there anything you would compromise your relationship with God to achieve or acquire?

Stop for a few minutes and answer those questions.  Really do it,  right now .  When you have your answers, continue reading.

People have struggled with these words of Jesus for centuries.  Did Jesus literally mean to maim and disfigure your body?  Of course not.  But, you may argue, that is exactly what He said.

True, but on the printed page, just as in what you are reading now, we do not have the benefit of His body language, His expressions, and the overall "tone" of His words, all of which impact the meaning of His words.

Someone recently challenged that opinion. I responded,  "You believe He meant it literally?  Interesting.  I don't see any hands or eyes missing."  Enough said.

I believe Jesus was using what I call the "shock factor".  I frequently use it also.  What is it?

Simply, you say something that is so  "different"  or challenging, that someone has to listen very closely and think deeply (sometimes even study) about it in order to understand what you said, or at times more important, what you did NOT say.  It is a technique used to keep your words from "going over someone's head" without being seriously "heard".

One thing you will have to admit:  Jesus got your attention with those words.  You have to think, study, even struggle to understand what He meant.  He accomplished His purpose.

When you really think about His words, there is nothing that you could do with your right hand that you could not also do with your left.  There is nothing you could see with your right eye that you could not also see with your left.  So, He was "getting at" something  much deeper than body parts .

 He was talking about compromise.

A friend recently told me of a very difficult decision she had to make.  It was one of those "right eye" decisions.

A friend of hers of many years became involved in something that she could not, in good conscience, accept or condone.  It became a "major thing" between them, an impasse in their relationship, because her friend expected her to accept this because of their long friendship.

What made the situation even more significant, is that the thing her friend wanted her to accept would cause a compromise in her relationship with God if she accepted it.

My friend was compelled to make that difficult decision.  She had to "break away" from that relationship, because she could not continue it and disagree with her friend, nor could she continue it and compromise her relationship with God.

That decision was, for her, a "right hand" or "right eye".  She lived what Jesus taught in the scripture above.  She removed from her life that which would cause her to offend God.

Earlier, I asked you some questions:  What is worth giving up something valuable, even irreplaceable, to attain?  What would you be willing to die for?  Is there anything you would compromise your relationship with God to achieve or acquire?

If you look closely at your answers, you may find some "right hands" or "right eyes".  If you do, what are you willing to do about them?

To "cut them off", as my friend did, requires commitment and courage.  It is not easy.  It is not supposed to be.  It never will be.  Do not expect it to be.  That is why it takes commitment and courage, and not everyone is willing to possess those qualities.  (Notice, I said  "willing" .  Anyone could.  But not all will.)

Jesus made it clear.  He said,  "It is better..."  So, whatever the conflict, whatever the compromise, whatever the cost, whatever the consequences,  "It is better..."  for you to make the right choice.  Choose Him.  It will always be  "better".  He did not promise "easy", but He did promise  "better".  There is no compromise on that point.

You will not regret the "better" choice.  Jesus guarantees it.

And my friend's situation?  The other person eventually removed the compromising thing out of her life, restored her relationship with God, and they have fellowship again.

Had my friend compromised, likely her friend would not have been restored, and her relationship with God would have suffered as well.

It was the "better" choice for her.

What about you?  Where does your axe need to fall?

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"Lessons from Life" ™ is written by Randall Vaughn
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