Jesus said, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell…” (Mark 9:43)
Jesus says these bracing and brutal words because He wants nothing to get in the way of our entering the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is such an indescribable gift that we must cut off anything and everything that causes us to stumble and miss it.
What might these “holy amputations” look like?
If we become so ambitious that we neglect our health and all other relationships, we need surgery.
If our desire to have a good life leads us to neglect the people who are most important to us, we need surgery.
If our anger hardens our hearts, we need surgery.
If our envy goes unchecked, we need surgery.
If we’re tempted to stray from our vows, we need surgery.
If we’re driven to prove we’re smarter than everyone else, we need surgery.
If we want to be in control of everyone around us, we need surgery.
Although Jesus means these words—cut off your hand—very seriously, He doesn’t mean them literally. If we read these words literally, we would all be blind, dumb, mute, and without limbs.
Jesus uses this radical and alarming language to wake us to the fact that the Kingdom of God is so important, urgent, and wonderful that we mustn’t allow any behavior, trait, habit, temptation, attitude, need, ambition, or desire to keep us from entering into it.
I encourage us to ask ourselves this question: What in us needs to be cut off or cut out? I also encourage us to ask Jesus the same question about ourselves because many of us would just as soon never have any “holy amputations.”
Jesus demands that we face what needs to be cut off, not to hurt us or deprive us, but to refine us, clarify us, save us, and welcome us into the Kingdom of God.
- What causes you to stumble in your own life?
- Do you need to “cut off” anything so that you can enter the Kingdom of God? If so, what is it, and are you willing to seek out surgery?
- If you were to ask Jesus what you need to “cut off,” what would He say?