MATTHEW 5:29-30: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts 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. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Am I holding on to old patterns, habits, attitudes, or sins as I enter this New Year?
Am I afraid to let go?
These two verses in Matthew 5 are probably one of the most shocking and controversial in all of Scripture. Jesus said them in the context of addressing both the attitude and act of adultery. His words must have shocked His disciples. And to be honest, they shock me. What was Jesus trying to convey?
Jesus taught in both parables and hyperbole. This was a common style of Jewish teachers in His day. This portion of the Sermon on the Mount was an example of hyperbole. A hyperbole is an extreme exaggeration to grab one’s attention and make an important point. It is like someone saying they are so hungry that they could eat a horse. Jesus was not advocating any type of self mutilation. He was talking about removing harmful things from our life that will lead us into the wrong direction.
Removing things from our life is difficult. As I reflect upon these verses I am involved in a major relocation after living in the same house for 15 years. These past 15 years were the years my daughter grew up from grade school to college. They were the years of accumulation. And now, my wife and I are moving from a larger home into a much smaller home. We are finding out that stuff multiplies when you are not aware of it. And trying to choose what goes and what stays is no easy task.
When you come across a piece of junk, it is a no brainer. Into the trash! However, what do you do with all those things that are on the borderline? Trash or box? Donation or sale? Doing a yearly evaluation of our personal and spiritual lives is just as difficult. When it comes to sin it should be clear to all of us, we need to repent and let it go. However, what about good things that might be keeping us from moving forward in the Lord. How do we know what to do about these?
This is why a daily regiment in God’s Word is so important. Day by day, moment by moment, our lives are changing. What was good for us yesterday may not be right for us today. How do we discern this? How do we know what to let go of and what to hold onto? God’s Word is the only key to this ongoing process of evaluation and revelation.
- “For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 CSB
Is my focus on the wrong thing? God’s Word discerns between the soul (mind, will, emotions), and the spirit (heart). Are my motives right before the Lord? God’s Word discerns between the thoughts and the intents of the heart. As I live in the Word of God the Holy Spirit has the ability to work in my life through the gift of revelation. Revelation is when He shines His light upon my life through the Word. It is when I receive this revelation that I know when it is time to change something in my life.
As I continue to grow in the Lord my life continues to change. My attitudes are being transformed by His Word. When my mind is renewed, so are my actions. Repentance does not become a cataclysmic event. Repentance becomes a regular way of life. It is the constant recharging of my life through the daily revelation of the Spirit through the Word. To discard the old things of life that hold me back becomes a joy. It ushers me into a new level of freedom in the Lord.
Lord, as I pack up my home, and separate the good items from the items to be discarded, let me also pack up any old attitudes and actions that may be weighing me down in this New Year. Grant me the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your will.
Illuminate my life through the Holy Spirit working daily through Your Word.
In Jesus Name!