“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched…” Mark 9:43 (NKJV)
Jesus always knew how to get a point across. Christ communicated with incomparable effectiveness, knowing exactly what to say and how to say it. Sometimes, He imparted a truth or command with the utmost delicacy and tenderness.
But there were other times when He used harsh imagery to drive home an idea, like in the passage above. In context, Jesus is speaking to His followers and is spelling out the severity of sin and how serious it is. He’s warning them against those earthly entrapments and enticements that would hinder them.
Now notice where Jesus takes the teaching. He says that it’s better to chop off the hand that you sin with than to suffer eternally. Don’t misunderstand. Jesus isn’t promoting self-mutilation…not at all! Rather, He’s challenging us to measure our earthly sins against eternity.
An eternal awareness is going to influence our attitude toward sin. It’s going to make us reevaluate it and really think twice about it. Instead of just going along with the tide of temptation, we’re going to stop and say to ourselves, “Wait, there’s something more enduring and important than my immediate gratification. There’s an eternal reality that I want to honor by the way I behave here and now.”
So much of the sin we willingly commit is done so without any forethought to our future…our eternal future. None of us is ever going to be perfectly sinless, no matter how eternal our perspective is, and that’s why Jesus had to die as our sin covering. But at the same time, we should want to stop sinning. And more often than not, being eternally minded leads us to do what’s right instead of what’s wrong.
The next time you’re tempted to sin, measure the momentary pleasure you may derive from it against the weight of eternity.
Think About It…
What does this passage reveal to me about God?
What does this passage reveal to me about myself?
Based on this, what changes do I need to make?
What is my prayer for today?
He has put eternity in their hearts… (Eccl. 3:11). Buried deep inside the human soul, there’s an inkling, a longing, and an awareness that there has to be something more than what we experience on earth. Why are we wired that way?