How do we deal with our own spiritual malaise? The choice is to be changed or to believe a lie saying ‘others are worse than I’ or ‘I’m not as bad as I once was.’  Corruption must be remedied if we are to thrive.

Jesus is given to extremes. He exaggerates a point to shock people awake. This is the prophet-like nature of God where words become swords that wound and sever.

We do a great disservice to ourselves when we try to explain away or nullify the shocking statements. God’s Word is supposed to cut deep. For example:

Mark 9:
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. [44]  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. [46] 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.’

Matthew Henry, a most capable wordsmith said,

Pluck out the eye, cut off the hand and foot, mortify the darling lust, kill it, crucify it, starve it… make no provision for it. Let the idols that have been delectable things, be cast away as detestable things; keep at a distance from that which is a temptation, though ever so pleasing. It is necessary that the part that is gangrened should be taken off for the preservation of the whole. The part that is incurably wounded must be cut off, lest the parts that are sound be corrupted. We must put ourselves to pain, that we may not bring ourselves to ruin; self must be denied, that it may not be destroyed.[i]

‘It tastes awful and it works.’ That’s how Buckley’s advertises its cough syrup. But Jesus is not talking about comforting yourself when you have a cough. He is talking about extreme measures to deal with life threatening behaviour.

I will not likely seek God’s correction in my life unless I believe that His salvation is preferable to my death wish. It’s not the fear of hell that causes me to change. It is God’s kindness that gives me hope of overcoming. Still, I need to hear the whole message. Hell is a foreboding consequence that will not go away because I ignore it.

Amputating a gangrenous hand or foot is extreme, but sometimes it is the saving action that prevents a person’s death. If indeed my soul is at risk of being eternally corrupted, then call me ‘Stumpy’. I prefer God’s kindness to His wrath. If I enter God’s presence disabled and walking with a crutch, it is preferable to allowing corruption to take my soul into the pit beyond recovery.

[i] Matthew Henry Commentary