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. Matthew 5:29
One of the most descriptive teachings of Jesus – plucking out your eye. Just in case you miss His point, Jesus adds:
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. Matthew 5:30
Before we have Christians wandering around with a missing eye and a cut-off right hand, let’s figure out what Jesus is talking about. Hint: He is not literally telling you to pluck out your eye and cut off your hand!
Our sins – what we do and think – become attachments. They are attached to familiarity.
A person with alcohol difficulty often has a group of friends who get drunk too. They meet in a specific place. Perhaps a bar where everyone knows their name! Giving up drinking means not only giving up alcohol, but friends, and the social “place” of imbibing.
Sometimes, plucking out an eye is easier than giving up familiar sin.
I never tell someone to give up drinking. It never works. I tell them to draw closer to Jesus. Most Christians I know have been delivered from alcohol, drugs, food, anger, or pride. Every believer needs freedom. When someone drones on about lacking freedom, I have a suspicion they do not truly want freedom.
Or that their familiar sin has become a demonic stronghold.
Some instantly change upon meeting Jesus, like Zacchaeus, the materialist and thief. Others had to be delivered, like the Gadarene demoniac. Fortunately, Jesus works effectively in both repentance and deliverance.
The number one reason for the lack of power is lack of faith.
When the disciples realized they had to forgive 70 times seven and give up their culture of revenge (the Jewish religion was an eye for an eye, – oops, “eye” again – and the underlayment of Jesus’s teaching about plucking out an eye), they asked Jesus, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Jesus said, “Forget about plucking out ‘an eye for an eye’ and just forgive.” Today we say, “Lord, increase my faith. I have to forgive my mother-in-law and that man who assaulted my daughter.”
The number two reason for lack of power is lack of faith too!
When the apostles couldn’t cast out a demon, Jesus described the apostles and Israel as an unbelieving and perverted generation (Luke 9:41). The great dis-service of the fundamental and evangelical faith of America is a suspicion of miracles.
How many have been taught “no” instead of “yes and amen”?
Lack of faith causes anger/revenge/violence/addiction/sensuality/possession – the list is long – and the solution is plucking out eyes and cutting off hands. Not really. Jesus says, “Draw close to me and believe.”
We all cry out, “Lord, increase our faith!”