“Last night,” I began as Stan and I waited for breakfast, “I was reading in Matthew’s gospel about something that has always bothered me.”
“What’s that?” Stan asked.
“Where Jesus was talking about cutting off hands and feet if they cause us to stumble.”
“Oh,” Stan replied, “Jesus’ tough talk. Sometimes He said things in a tough way because the consequences of not doing what He said are so severe.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But isn’t cutting off hands and feet pretty severe?”
“So is going to hell,” Stan replied.
“Seems to me,” he continued, “that Jesus was using strong language to make the point that stumbling is a big deal and I am to remove everything in my life that causes me to stumble.”
“Even cutting off what causes you to stumble?”
“How about reading it as cutting out, rather than cutting off?” Stan replied.
“Oh,” I said, “like if my hand causes me to stumble by touching something or someone, I should just not do that touching. Is that it?”
“That’s it,” Stan replied. “And if my foot causes me to go somewhere that’s going to cause me to stumble, don’t go there.”
“As simple as choosing to cut out the things in my life that will cause me to stumble?” I replied. “That sounds kind of like the first step of discipleship.”
“In what way?” Stan asked.
“Deny self,” I replied. “If I deny the self-centered desire to touch things that I shouldn’t touch, and if I don’t go where I shouldn’t go, then I will be one step closer to what Jesus talked about in being a disciple.”
“Sounds good to me,” Stan replied with a smile.
Bible verses to consider:
And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. Matthew 18:9.
And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. Mark 9:43.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the truth of the danger of stumbling. Thank you for your provision of the cross of Christ so I will not stumble into hell when my time here is completed. I confess that too often on this side of eternity I stumble in my walk with you because I choose to touch things I shouldn’t and I choose to go places that will cause me to stumble. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead so I do not stumble in my walk with you. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Are you certain you will not stumble into hell when your time here is completed? If you’re not certain, know that God’s provision for life eternally with Him is His free and gracious gift through the cross of Christ. It only needs to be accepted. If you are a Christian, how are you doing in not stumbling in your faith walk? If you sense the need to change so you will not stumble by what you touch and where you go, how is that change going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?