THOUGHTS FROM MATTHEW

June 3

Text: Matthew 18:7-9

"Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!  And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out, and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell.Ē (NASB)

The objective of these verses is to provide a comparison.  The comparison: A sound physical body is inferior to the after-death existence.  Therefore, if Godís spiritual values endanger the physical body, being true to Godís values is worth a basic physical loss.

The emphasis began by noting the obvious.  In this physical existence, there will be believers in Jesus (who follow Godís values) who cope with physical loss by abandoning Jesus.  It will happen!  Stumbling will occur!  The issue was the avenue of the happening, not the happening itself.  To that end, one who follows Jesus should never be the avenue or reason for the spiritual stumbling of a believer in Jesus. 

In this present existence, physical values and Godís values are often incompatible.  The dilemma: What should the person who follows Jesus do when that clash of values occurs?  Should the person abandon Jesus (thus Godís values), or should the person endure the physical loss?

In astounding terms, Jesus said that if oneís choice is between abandoning Godís values or suffering basic physical harm, choose suffering basic physical harm.  Why?  The consequences of the loss are less!

Why was what Jesus said astounding?  Remember the overwhelming majority were involved in agriculture.  There were no engines to work as power sourcesóeverything was manual.  To lose a foot, hand, or eye in a world that did tasks manually was an enormous loss!

Observe these things: (1) The loss occurred by choice.  (2) The follower of Jesus knew the loss could occur before the incident existed.  Thus the choice was a matter of thought and reflection.  (3) The choice was based on consequences, not on immediate convenience.  (4) Reality involved more than the physical.

Suggestion for reflection: A life of faith is based on personal choices.  (Read Joshua 24:14, 15.)

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