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  • Writer's pictureAndrea O Smith

God Met Me in My Maming

"And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire." Matthew 18:8-9 ESV

Yikes! These words from Jesus are somewhat terrifying. If we took it completely literally, there would be a lot of blind amputees walking about. Very few of us (me included as I am currently looking at the screen with my intact eyes and typing with my still attached fingers) are willing to go to such lengths in order to prevent ourselves from sinning. Wisdom would lead us to at least guard our hearts, minds and bodies to stay away from anything that turns us away from God's will for our lives. We stay away from people, places and things that are like shiny objects to our flesh, but we know will rot our soul. It is so much easier to stay away from places or things, but less simple to stay away from people that trigger our inner beast.

A while back, I realized that when I was in the presence of a particular individual, I was left angry and bitter. I would say things I would never have said previously. I would fantasize about this person's demise, hoping it would be slow and painful. Hate would start to fester instead of love and kindness. Worse yet, the feelings would be intensified in my dreams. All I wanted was revenge. I wanted justice. I was unable to have the self-control (a fruit of the spirit that seems to sit at the tippy-top of the tree, more difficult to reach than the others) of filtering my words in a way that was loving and life-giving. In fact, I was doing the exact opposite! I was being a complete jerk! My generally jovial disposition was traded in for a vile, menacing character that I didn't like.

Matthew 18 goes on further to discuss how one should deal with a Christian brother/sister who has sinned against you. Having attempted that to the best of my ability, including counseling too, I realized that this relationship was actually causing me to sin. If I didn't get out, I was going to drown in this sin. So, after much prayer, contemplation and discussion, it was decided that I needed to cut-off this relationship. Was it going to be painful? You bet! Did it mean losing others along with it? Sure did. Was it worth it to not be tempted to sin with each encounter? Absolutely!! Following the Bible passage further in Matthew 18, Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness. Boy, did I and do I want to make sure that I was forgiving even without closure!! Jesus tells Peter in verse 22 about how often to forgive, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Some translations read seventy times seven.) I used to think that meant for each offense, but I have since learned that sometimes forgiveness is for the same trespass that might keep coming up as you try to heal from the damage left in the wake of the offense.

Cutting someone or something off is hard. If you're suffering from an addiction, you know it is difficult to just step away. Maybe it's not drugs or alcohol. Maybe you can't be trusted to be on your phone before bed because you make bad choices. Keep that phone in the kitchen where there is accountability with the rest of the family. What if you spend too much time talking to that "work spouse" instead of your real spouse? Build a boundary where you only talk about work-related topics. Perhaps you're in a relationship where each of you are continuously hurting each other. Maybe it's time to gouge those temptations out of your life. Maybe it's time to cut ties with the sins that are binding you. Stepping away can be as painful as losing a limb. But what if it makes all the difference? What if you come out of it so much closer to God? What if He heals the wounds that were continually being ripped back open before you were back to being well because you obeyed the command to step away from the temptation of sin.

Lord, You are amazing! You love us so well and we want to love you well in return. We don't want to hurt you by sinning. Please help us see where we can improve this week. Help us to see where we can make some major cuts in our habits or relationships that are not honoring You, even if it hurts. We will hobble around at first. If we keep looking to ourselves for the power, then we are sure to fail, but if we keep our eyes on You, you will certainly hold us in Your mighty hand! Please let us feel your strength as we make big decisions that will lead to healing and a closer relationship to You, God. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

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