“I was reading in Matthew’s gospel last night,” I said to Stan one morning.
“Anything interesting?” He asked.
“Yeah,” I said, “both interesting and somewhat bothersome.”
“What were you reading?” Stan asked.
“Where Jesus told some people to rip their eye out and throw it away if it caused them to sin,” I replied.
“You’re right,” Stan replied, “tough talk that could be bothersome. But it wasn’t uncommon for Jesus to say things in a strong way to make a simple point.”
“What’s simple about telling someone to rip their eye out and throw it away?” I asked.
“Well,” Stan responded, “to me, the bottom-line point Jesus was making concerns sin, stumbling into sin, and how destructive sin can be in a person’s life. I can tell you from personal experience that sin can, indeed, have a destructive impact on a life.”
Continuing, he added, “I think what Jesus was warning about is that if what I look at causes me to stumble into sin, I had better watch out and pay close attention to what I look at and the consequences of that looking.”
“Okay,” I said, “rather than rip my eye out and throw it away, I am to guard what I look at. Is that what you’re saying?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And you probably know as well as I do that there’s a lot of stuff to look at that can cause stumbling into sin.”
Continuing, he added, “Books, magazines, movies, television, the internet. You could even include that there are certain people I shouldn’t be looking at in a certain way. This list goes on and on.”
“So,” I replied, “if I’m not constantly aware of the danger of what I look at, or how I look at something or someone, I guess I could be headed for trouble.”
“Much stronger than a guess,” Stan said. “I would put it in the category of being an absolute certainty.”
Continuing, he said, “While this sort of stumbling into sin is not about the possibility of losing my salvation, it certainly can be about missing the mark of who God intends for me to be while He leaves me on this side of eternity.”
“And,” he concluded, “if I miss the mark it may very well cause another person to stumble as well. I don’t want that to happen, so I purposefully call upon the Holy Spirit to help me in what I look at and what I don’t. I give Him full permission to help me in whatever way necessary so the choices I make are not going to cause me, or anyone else, to stumble.”
And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your body to be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:29.
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13.
It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:2.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the warnings set forth in your Word, the warnings that give instruction as to what and what not to do. You know how often I am tempted to look at things and people in ways you do not want, ways that may lead me to stumble into sin. I need and I ask for your help to avoid stumbling in ways that will impact who you have for me to be and what you have for me to do while you leave me on this side of eternity. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you agree that the world, the flesh, and the devil have all sorts of things for us to look at that can cause us to stumble into sin? Why or why not? Are there particular things you look at in ways that have caused you to stumble? If so, what happened? Do you want to avoid that kind of stumbling in the future? Why or why not? If you do, are you familiar with the help that is available? Do you want that help?