Ready to cut off your hand?
Let’s continue this sacrifice discussion. I could have combined Matthew 5:29 and 5:30 but wanted to keep them separate because the point Jesus is driving home here is so very very important.
Matthew 5:30 says this: “And if your right hand is causing you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
This verse follows the same pattern of hyperbole—exaggeration for effect—as made clear by the rest of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus is not literally telling people to mutilate themselves in order to avoid sinning and going to hell. His purpose is to emphasize how high the stakes are when it comes to sin.
While the prior verse involved the eyes, and implied sins like lust, Jesus’ current analogy speaks of one’s hand. The overt meaning is that we ought to be in control of our urges—not to let the desires of the body take us over. Once again, the point is that it’s better to lose a body part rather than be thrown into hell. Some scholars suggest the words used here might have also been used as a polite euphemism for lustful acts, more generally.
Once more, Jesus is demonstrating how seriously God takes sin. It is not only action, but motivation, which matters to God (Matthew 5:20). Sin starts in the inner places of a person. Along with this, Jesus is demonstrating how impossible it is for anyone to be worthy of the kingdom of heaven, based on their own goodness (Matthew 5:48). Every person is a sinner, based on God’s standards.
Not only actions, but motivations. It’s not the physical act but the intent or the idea of the intent in your mind and heart. Clearly a very very hard thing to control. Our minds are these vast pools of good and bad intentions and everything in between. Maybe this is why David, in the Psalms was pleading with the Lord saying, “Create in me a clean heart.” Our hearts fuel our minds and vice versa sometimes.
A clean heart. God that we would be granted a clean heart. Help our motivations, desires and intents be pure and clean in the name of Jesus.
Prayers up for you today as you struggle with this. We are all with you.