“Do you remember,” Stan asked me one morning, “when we have talked about what Jesus said to do with things that cause us to stumble?”
“You mean,” I replied, “where He talked about tearing my eye out or cutting off a hand or foot, if they cause me to stumble?”
“That’s it,” Stan responded.
“I do remember,” I replied, “and I have to admit that those words of Jesus have always caused me more than a little discomfort.”
“I know what you mean,” Stan said, “tough words to make the point about if something is going to cause me to stumble, don’t look, don’t touch, and don’t go there.”
“Last night,” he continued, “I was given an opportunity to learn something new about this from my next-door neighbor who was telling me about a pastor’s message that focused on the reason we are to avoid stumbling, as well as the same reason we are to do whatever is necessary to avoid stumbling.”
“What reason is that?” I asked.
“So we can enter life,” Stan replied.
“Yeah,” he said, “my neighbor pointed out that Jesus was talking about the importance of entering life without the things that cause stumbling, whatever those things may be.”
“What kind of life?” I asked.
“There are only two kinds of life that matter,” Stan said. “Life eternally with God when it’s time, as well as the eternal life of knowing God the Father and Jesus the Son before then.”
“Having those two kinds of life are a choice, is that the point?” I asked.
“That’s what it seems to me,” Stan replied. “Jesus used some tough talk to make the point that I have choices to make when it comes to choosing the life He has for me. Eliminating some of those things may cause some temporary pain, but that short-term pain is nothing compared to the long-term pain of being separated from God for eternity. Or the pain of being separated from what He has for me before then.”
“And it’s all a matter of choosing what to eliminate in order to enter the life God has for me?”
“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied. “It’s all about choice.”
Bible verses to consider:
And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell. Mark 9:43-47.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of life eternally with you when it’s time, as well as the eternal life of knowing you and Jesus before then. Thank you, too, for the truth that for me to have the life you intend for me that there are choices involved. I confess that too often I do not choose the life you intend for me. I do that because I choose a life apart from you. Please help me to follow every step of your lead in eliminating all that is in my life that causes me to stumble and walk apart from you. I want only to walk in an ever-deepening, ever-closer personal relationship with you. Please help me. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Life on both sides of eternity involves choices. Have you chosen to spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? Do you know it is a free and gracious gift that just needs to be accepted by faith? What might be in the way? If you have the assurance of redemption and salvation for eternal purposes, how are you doing with making the choices to eliminate from your life things that interfere with a closer walk with God while you wait for the train? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense improved choices are required, how is that going to happen?