The Most Interesting Blog Post You’ll Ever Read
“So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” – Matthew 5:29, NLT
Is the title of this blog post an exaggeration? Perhaps. But, to be fair, hyperbole is all around us:
- I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. Even a small horse weighs around 900 pounds.
- I’ve told you a million times. The average person speaks about 7,000 words a day, meaning it would take 143 days of you sounding like an extremely broken record to actually accomplish this strange feat.
- It’s raining cats and dogs. I’ll never understand how this phrase came to be so popular. It’s so bizarre.
The purpose of hyperbole is to get our attention, and nobody does this better than Jesus. Unfortunately, many of us are so familiar with His teachings that they don’t pack the same punch as if we were hearing them for the first time. Can you imagine how Jesus’ original audience would have responded in the moment to some of His unprecedented and extraordinary teachings and commandments?
Take Matthew 5:27-30 for example. Jesus knows his audience was well-acquainted with the Ten Commandments, which included an instruction to avoid divorce. He proposes a radical new understanding of this teaching when He says, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28, NLT)
As revolutionary as this new interpretation was, it’s not hyperbole. This comes next, as Jesus provides an extreme solution to the all-too-prevalent problem of sin in our lives. If your eye causes you to sin, according to Jesus, you should simply gouge it out and throw it away. The same is true with your hand, He says. In Jesus’ words, “It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:30, NLT)
Once we pick our jaws up off the floor, the natural response is to question the literality of Jesus’ teaching. Does Jesus really want us walking around with missing limbs and body parts? The answer, according to most Biblical scholars, is no. Although many of Jesus’ earliest disciples were eventually martyred for their faith, they lived the majority of their lives with most of their extremities intact.
The purpose of this passage is not to suggest that self-harm is an admirable level of discipline. Instead, Jesus is calling us to understand the severity of sin and its potential implications, both in this life and in the next. To Jesus, nothing is more valuable than the Kingdom of Heaven, and He wants us to understand this importance as well. Nothing is too priceless or sacred to sacrifice if it means experiencing more of God’s presence in our lives.
What do you need to sacrifice for the sake of righteousness? Perhaps it’s not a body part, but maybe it’s an app on your phone or a show in your Netflix queue. It could even be a relationship, a dream, or a sense of comfort that keeps you from doing the things you know you should be doing. Don’t be afraid to make drastic changes in your life if the potential reward is a deeper faith or a richer relationship with God.
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” – Philippians 3:7, NLT