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Points to Ponder: Would You Give Your Right Arm to Live?
Points to Ponder
Would You Give Your Right Arm to Live?
Fascinated news reporters on every TV channel exclaimed, "hiker cuts off his own arm ...". Aron Ralston was hiking in Utah when an 800 pound boulder came down on his right arm. After several days had passed, he concluded that he had to choose between losing his arm or losing his life.
Every reporter I heard commented on the will power, the unimaginable pain he must have endured, and Ralson's resolve to accept his circumstances and go on with life (which includes his love of hiking).
Eric Ralston had to snap the bones in his own arm and then with his pen knife cut it off. Some say, "Wow!" Others say "Gross!" A lot of us do not know what to say. But Ralston looked at his situation and did what he had to do. He could live without part of his arm or he could die with all of it. In either case, his right arm was, at the moment, killing him. Literally. The fascination of the reporters reminded me of the fascination I see in the eyes of people who are caught up in lifestyles, habits, and--let's say it plainly--sin. They know it, but they refuse to stop, to repent, to cut it off. It is as if they can not go on without it.
Jesus put forth a graphic teaching that Eric Ralston graphically illustrated. Jesus dealt with the issue of sexual sin, specifically adultery, in Matthew 5:27-30. Our culture is immersed in this one. But the teaching applies to every area of our lives where we are caught under an 800 pound boulder of thoughts, habits, lifestyles and loyalties that hold us captive.
"... 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." (Matthew 5:30)
Consider the symbolism of the "right hand." It is the dominant, primary hand. We speak of someone as "my right hand man/woman," indicating their predominant influence and contribution. We bind ourselves in agreements with a handshake, and we offer the "right hand of fellowship" to brothers and sisters in the faith. But Jesus says, if your right hand causes you to sin, to turn from the Lord or to violate His word, cut it out of your life. Detach yourself from it. You get the symbolism; if you listen prayerfully for the Holy Spirit's guidance, you will know how this applies specifically to you.
What are you involved in (or with whom) that has trapped you in a place where you should not be? Why do you get defensive when friends question you about it? Why do you justify and rationalize doing this thing, while at the same time you would not dare search the scriptures or honestly ask God if this is right in His eyes? You already know the answer. That right arm you treasure and love and which perhaps has even served you faithfully at one time, has now got you caught. Do you die with it or live on for Christ without it?
Let the word of God, coupled with prayer, the counsel of godly friends, and an open heart help you do the painful amputation.
"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to Whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13 NIV)
Any life saving surgery is painful. Any sharp edge that penetrates, cuts, and divides will hurt and bring tears to the eyes. But the Surgeon who knows where to cut also brings forth healing and recovery. Following the Lord and letting His Word have its way in the ordering of your life is painful for a moment; but the joy of being free to live with Him and for Him far exceeds the security and comfort that comes with hanging on to what is killing you.
Again, face your own 800 pound boulder situation with these four necessary things: the Word of God, prayer, the counsel of godly friends, and an open heart. Then do what you have to do.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.
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