Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Matter of Life and Death

There is a man in our church who lost his left hand in an accident when he was a young boy. To see him in action using only one hand is to witness the definition of adaptability. He is amazing to watch. Still, I would never want to lose a hand unless it was a matter of life and death. In this man’s case it was a life and death situation that took his hand. His wonderful, adapted life is testimony to the choice he made to let the hand go in order to save his own life.

Jesus talked about losing a hand in Matthew 5:30 “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.”

To me this has been one of the strangest of Jesus’ sayings. For some reason God has kept this verse on my mind for the past few weeks. Here is what He has shown me about the symbolism of cutting off one’s own right hand.

When it comes to sinning we are in a life or death situation. Sin requires that something drastic be done and we must choose to do it based upon the life and death choice that is before us every time we sin. There is nothing more serious than dealing with whatever it is that makes us sin.

Once I have identified how I repeatedly reach for sin with my right hand, I must publicly and permanently admit I cannot stop reaching. By cutting off the hand I make a statement of my public and permanent inability to stop reaching for something that I know makes me sin. Hand cutting is symbolic of public and permanent poverty of spirit.
Only public and permanent poverty of spirit can set the stage for no more sinning.
My missing hand says to me and to all who meet me “Bud couldn’t stop reaching”. The only way to stop sin is a life of public and permanent “I can’t” in the presence of Jesus.

All spiritual progress against sinning begins with the “I can’t” of the missing right hand. Still, the spiritual life does not stop at the cutting of the hand. I still need to reach for things. Only now, I have to ask someone to reach for me and with me. That someone I ask is Jesus.

When a desire to reach for something returns, I need to look at the permanent and public symbol of “I can’t”, turn my attention to Jesus and then ask Jesus to reach for me. It is amazing how quickly I know what He will and will not reach for once my right hand is gone! The painful, public and permanent “I can’t” makes the right kind of reaching with Jesus a public, permanent and joyful possibility. “I can’t” sets the stage for the “I can”.
As Paul said in Phillipians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

To abide is to live the life of a branch. A branch knows it is 100% dependent on the Vine for the reach of it’s life and fruit. The Vine reaches through the branch. The branch can’t reach on its own but the branch can reach if the Vine wants it to. That is why Jesus said “without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Do you have a missing right hand? Have you concluded what it is you cannot stop reaching for? Everyone one of us who sees sin as a life and death issue should have a missing right hand which is a public and permanent statement and reminder. Everyone of us should willingly admit we could not stop. When we saw stopping as a life and death issue. we decided to make the cut with our own ability and accept the fact that we can now only reach and enjoy what Jesus is willing to reach and hold for us and with us.

Abide Brazil ministries and our growing international outreach will only function through people who are missing their right hand. Don’t be afraid to make the permanent and public cut with your own attempts to stop sin. Go public and permanent with your inability and you will begin to release the reach of Jesus in the place of your reach for sin.

I would love to hear your comments!


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