Read Matthew 18:7-9.
I thought he’d already covered this point. I wasn’t going to mention it again, but then I thought: “Why did Jesus use the same illustration twice? Could it be because there was more to learn?”
He talked about gouging eyes and cutting off hands when he spoke to the crowd on the mountain, but here he was in Capernaum, or thereabouts, listening to his disciples ask a stupid question. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” I’m sure he wondered if they were learning anything from the time they had with him.
After reminding them of their need for humility, he used the word that should have been accompanied by a lightening bolt: Woe…
Jesus is wearing his judge hat when he says woe, for God has given him the right to judge mankind. Here, he’s pronouncing judgement and condemnation on what? The world.
Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
Why was the world in such trouble? Because of what the disciples were seeking — greatness, position, honor. These were things that the world said were important, and we can all agree that desire for position has led many a man to sin. That’s when he goes back to cutting things off.
If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire…(the same for your eye).
What does my hand, foot or eye have to do with the sin of seeking position over service to Christ? Then I remember something my late husband said. When I first met him, he was pastoring a small Arab congregation in Texas. I noticed him, because he was handsome. He dressed well, and even wore a beautiful diamond ring on his pinky finger. He really stood out in a crowd. Before we married over a year later, the ring was gone, his nice car traded for a small Toyota, and he had gotten rid of his television. Was it something I said? No, he told me he did not want anything to distract people from the message of the Gospel when they looked at him.
If the ring was attracting more attention than his preaching, he didn’t want it. If the car was leading people to think he was someone important, he got rid of it. If the TV was distracting him from God’s Word, it had to go. If your hand is leading you to sin…well then, you know the answer.
If I put more time into getting my nails done than getting my hands dirty for the Lord, then I have a choice to make. If I spend hours exercising to look good but can’t take the time to get on my knees in prayer, then something has to go.
What are the things of the world that are leading me to sin? What am I listening to and giving time and value to that keeps me from serving Christ? Woe to that thing in my life that takes precedent over Jesus.
Woe unto me a sinner. Oh, Lord, have mercy.