[forthright] Cutting One's Liabilities

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Sat, 05 Apr 2008 11:36:26 -0300
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross

Mike Brooks, Tim Hall, Glover Shipp -- names you know,
writing you trust. http://forthrightpress.com


"Cutting One's Liabilities"
  by Michael E. Brooks

   "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck
   it out and cast it from you; for it is more
   profitable for you that one of your members
   perish, than for your whole body to be cast
   into hell. And if your right hand causes
   you to sin, cut it off and cast it from
   you; for it is more profitable for you that
   one of your members perish, than for your
   whole body to be cast into hell" (Matthew
   5:29-30 NKJV).

A construction crew is building a culvert across the
road in front of our KBC campus. While digging out the
ditch they encountered a telephone cable, and scraped
some of the insulation from it. Later the engineer from
the sub-district came to inspect the site, discovered
the damaged cable and promptly cut through it
completely. He obviously was preventing future trouble
which would develop if the bare cable should be buried
as it was, with no repair.

It goes against our nature to throw away or destroy
something that is at all useful. Even with a little
damage, we instinctively think, "Save it, it might be
good for something sometime." We are much less willing
to do something as radical as Jesus taught -- cut off a
part of our body that leads us into sin.

The Bangladeshi engineer knew it was better to cut the
cable completely than to cover up a potential problem.
The bare wire would interrupt service, sooner or later.
His action forced immediate repair, and prevented
greater difficulties in the future.

Though this may not be Jesus' main point (rather it was
the extreme seriousness of sin), his command also
points out the need for facing problems immediately, at
a time of less severity, rather than waiting until the
full consequences come. If we face sin and temptation
now, dealing with them as severely as required, we will
avoid eternal punishment later. No physical cost is too
great to pay for salvation.

We legitimately doubt that Jesus was recommending or
condoning self-mutilation. His language might well be,
as many suppose, hyperbole (intentional, excessive
overstatement for dramatic effect). If so, this in no
way reduces the extreme seriousness of his intention.
To be righteous before God we must practice self-
control and must resist sin in all its forms. James
taught that "pure religion" includes "keep[ing] oneself
unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). Paul commanded,
"Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians
5:22).

There are other things which lead us to sin, and which
we should cast away or cut off as a preventative,
besides our body parts. These include some friends or
companions (1 Corinthians 15:33), certain recreational
activities (including some movies, television or
music), personal habits (like smoking?), and anything
which is not conducive to spiritual growth and moral
living. There may be some good which one can find in
some of these things, but the harm inherent in them
will lead to problems if covered up and left alone.

Jesus is asking us to take our spiritual life
seriously. Heaven and Hell are real places, for real
people. What we do now determines where we spend
eternity. When we consider our activities let us ask,
"Is doing this worth risking my soul forever?"

----
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