Jamie and I have been meditating on the scriptures and praying together each morning for some months now. And it’s been a wonderful way of setting each day in order and pressing into relationship with Jesus together. As we read Matt. 5:27-30 a couple of weeks ago, Jamie shared some thoughts that struck me very deeply. I asked him if he would write them down for the e-news this week, and he courageously agreed.
Dear Coast Friends,
Recently, Michelle and I were taking an early morning walk through a vineyard in Temecula. We were reading and discussing the Sermon on the Mount. That morning, we read the passage where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Walking with Michelle and listening to the Spirit, I was struck how literally true every word of this passage is.
Growing up, I had often heard this talked about as an example of hyperbole. Of course, it’s not actually better to cut out your eye. It’s not actually better to cut off your hand. Jesus is exaggerating to make a point. Jesus would never say anything cruel like that. As many of you know, I am recovering from a sexual addiction, and I did the very things Jesus said not to do. It is clear as day to me that I would be better off had I lost an eye years ago rather than go further down the road of sin. Likewise, if I could have my life over again, it would be an easy decision to forfeit either my right hand or my left hand in exchange for not sinning the way I did. It would have been far easier for Michelle, for our kids, and for me had I spent these years without a hand or an eye, or both. There’s no comparison. And that is before we even account for his ultimate warning of hell.
As we read the passage and prayed that morning, I was struck by Jesus’ kindness and goodness in speaking these strong words. He’s telling us how terribly costly sin is, and he is right. Friends, as someone desperately trying to dig out of the pit, I urge you to pay attention to Jesus’ warning.
These are hard words, but I believe deeply valuable ones. I hope they bless you and help you to draw near to the love of Jesus.
Holy Spirit, help us together to turn our hearts continually toward you and away from everything that draws us away from you and away from each other. Help us to value what you value. And be with us as we spend time together at our retreat this weekend. Amen.
Love in Christ,