The Gospel according to Matthew (5:27-32)
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. It was also said, whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
The language that Jesus uses in the gospel today is pretty much over the top – right? If we look deeper in the scripture and break it down, we realize it isn’t a literal command, but rather a symbolic statement commanding us to avoid sin with great zeal. That’s a good thing! We are being told to avoid all that leads us to sin. The eye can be understood as a window to our soul where our thoughts and desires reside. The hand can be seen as a symbol of our actions. So, we are called to eliminate every thought, affection, desire or action that leads us to sin.
The true key to understanding this passage is to allow us to be affected by the powerful language that Jesus uses. He doesn’t hesitate to speak in a shocking way so as to reveal to us the calling we have to confront that which leads to sin in our lives. “Pluck it out…cut it off,” He says. In other words, eliminate your sin and all that leads you to sin in a definitive way. The eye and the hand are not sinful in and of themselves; rather, in this symbolic language they are spoken of as those things that lead to sin. Therefore, if certain thoughts or certain actions lead you to sin, these are the areas to target and to work on eliminating.
Regarding our thoughts, sometimes we can allow ourselves to dwell excessively upon this or that. As a result, these thoughts can lead us to sin. The key is to “pluck out” that initial thought that produces the bad fruit.
Regarding our actions, we can at times put ourselves in situations that tempt us and lead to sin. These occasions of sin must be cut off from our lives.
Action of the Day:
Take time today to ask God to help you to avoid all that leads to sin and to surrender all your thoughts and actions to Him every day. Remember the saying – “Jesus, I trust in You.”