Bible with Cross ShadowAddressing the guarding of our mouth and heart in Matthew 5:21-28, Jesus warns against using the letter of the law as a measuring line for sin. Murder and adultery are more than the physical act. Additionally, He is trying to teach us that doing “these sayings of Mine” requires community. Why? Because sin is a serious matter.

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matthew 5:29-30

It seems to me that there are three ways to hear this saying. First, we must consider whether or not Jesus is speaking literally. This is unlikely for at least three reasons: The act of self mutilation runs contrary to the revelation that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; second, the early church did not practice self-mutilation; and third, removing one eye or hand does not solve the problem of sin.

If not literally speaking, perhaps Jesus is using hyperbole to make a point. It would not be the last time He did so. For example, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother..., he cannot be My disciple”, is a way of stressing the importance of loving Him first and in much greater measure. Applying this perspective, we come to understand from the passage above that sin is a very serious matter in the life of a believer. To tolerate what the eye or hand might do has eternal consequences. This is not taught enough in the church today.

A third interpretation assumes that Jesus is speaking into a community context. In this case, the eye or hand is a person or group of persons. This is harmonious with Jesus’ teaching on the true vine (and the branches that fail to bear fruit), and the Parables of the Talents, Sheep and Goats, etc. His and Paul’s teaching on church discipline also give authority and process for the separation of a member from the body.

Sin in the individual is sin in the camp. Both are serious matters for the church – particularly in this season of approaching storms. The church fellowships that fail to administer discipline are weakening their house; making it susceptible to a great fall. As a member of the Body of Christ – whatever your position – you owe it to the ones you love to pursue this matter. Turning a blind eye, in order to avoid offense or discomfort, is not the love God intends for the bride of His Son.

It must be said that church discipline is to be done in the way and love of the Father. Yes, there will be offense and discomfort. There may even be chaos. It will be a great opportunity for our learning to trust the Father and His ways; and it will make our houses stronger. Do you believe it?

Humbly yours and forever His,