And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it 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. (Mat 18:8 ESV)
I once made a living spraying liquid fertilizers which were custom mixed with various herbicides. One herbicide was especially effective at controlling cockleburs but you had to take great care in mixing and applying it. Too much would kill everything.
One farmer had a field that invariably produced more cockleburs than soybeans. So, he ordered up an especially strong mixture of the stuff for that one field. The responsibility for mixing and applying fell to me. It came in a powder form that had a tendency to settle in the liquid if not constantly stirred. Maybe I didn’t stir soon enough or maybe not long enough. But I didn’t do something enough. For the first twenty yards of the first ten rows there was nothing, and I do mean nothing. For a long, long time.
As soon as it became apparent (when the rest of the field was up and growing), I swallowed hard and went to said farmer with deepest apologies. He asked me if I had seen the rest of the field. I had seen it but my focus was on the first twenty yards of the first ten rows. Then he said this. “In that field, I’ll take ten rows for twenty yards of nothing any year, if I can get the rest of the field looking like it does now.”
He lost something but what he gained was so much greater in his eyes that he was ready to do it again. I was not ready to do it again, but he was. He knew the risk but he also saw the harvest. Losing a little to reap a lot looked like a deal to him. If he was happy, you may be sure that I was.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:8 seem hard to us. My foot is important to me. In fact, it is me, and if I lose it, I will limp through life. But Jesus is telling me that there are things worth losing. These hard words are from one who sees the harvest. There are attitudes, desires, and patterns of behavior that, if allowed to grow, will have devastating results at harvest time. It is better to tell self where to get off today than to wait. If not, you may find yourself in a field of spiritual cockleburs in search of a lonely spiritual bean.
Losing a little to reap a lot is a deal. It is OK to limp now if you know that the end result will be flying with eagles.
But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 ESV)
What a Savior!