If your right eye makes you stumble and leads you to sin, tear it out and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble and leads you to sin, cut it off and throw it away [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:29
It’s not difficult to understand that the avoidance of sin, even when it seems to cost us something, is the decision that leads to life and health. But the lines can easily be blurred when we have to give up something in life that is a legitimate need—handing it over to God and dealing with the pain that the loss of that unmet need brings. To the heart and soul, this releasing can feel like “plucking out the eye” or “cutting off the hand.” The one who must give up their unmet need in this scenario is looking out for their eternal welfare. They have made the decision not to sin in order to meet their very real need, be it emotional, relational, financial, or a need in another area of life.
The eye and the hand are good things, not evil, just as many of our desires are good and not evil. However, when we do illegitimate things in order to meet legitimate needs, then we are sinning. This is where the cost of choosing God’s way and trusting Him is experienced. And perhaps this is one meaning for the scripture in Matthew 5.
It is better to give up a desire for the fulfillment of a genuine need than to find our own way to meet that need: a relationship, a means of financial support, a position of power and significance, even acceptance from those we desire to have in our lives. It is worth it to “pluck out an eye,” or “cut off a hand,” to experience the pain of resisting temptation to meet the legitimate in an illegitimate way, for the sake of our eternal well-being.
Jesus is the one who tells us that in this world we will have trouble. He is the over-comer, and in Him we too can rise above the lacking we may experience in one area of our life or another. The decision belongs to the individual–life or death, the temporary and fleeting or the eternal. What will you choose?
Have you considered temporary sacrifice in the light of eternal life? We all experience the pain of loss through unmet needs…will you choose to trust God with the pain of your unmet needs?
Amplified Bible, biblegateway.com