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.”(Matthew 5:27-32)
Does Jesus really mean this? Literally?
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus exhorting his disciples’ righteousness to exceed the self-righteousness of the Pharisees.
Today, Jesus is teaching them and us about that which is of most importance in our lives . . . inheriting the Kingdom of God.
We can be certain that this language, which is shocking, is not a literal command but is rather a symbolic statement commanding us to avoid sin with great zeal, and 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. Thus, we must eliminate every thought, affection, desire and action that leads us to sin.
The true key to understanding this passage is to allow ourselves to be affected by the powerful language that Jesus uses. He does not hesitate to speak in a shocking way so as to reveal to us the calling we have to confront with much zeal 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. So, if certain thoughts or certain actions lead you to sin, these are the areas to target and to eliminate.
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.
Reflect, today, upon this very direct and powerful language of our Lord. Let the forcefulness of His words be an impetus for change and avoidance of all sin.
Jesus is insisting that we should not let any other thing in this world distract us from having the Everlasting Life.
Holiness, is a treasure we carry within ourselves.
Remember too that God earnestly desires you to be holy, and so he is intent on reaching out to help you. So, when you are facing temptation and the allure of sin, cry out to him. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you his grace and to help you grow in the fruit of self-control. And if you do fall to temptation, don’t despair. God still loves you. No distance, no depth of sin, is ever beyond his reach. He is always ready to forgive you, even if you commit the same sin again and again. Never hesitate to run to him. He will shower you with his mercy—and the grace to live a holy life.
He knew that the spiritual life is a journey and not a moment. In this journey, he knew that we would stumble. When we pick ourselves up, it is to God that we must look to for forgiveness, and it is then that the ‘great exchange’ that Luther speaks of, takes place, “You give God your sin and He gives you His Son on the Cross”
Prayer of The Day
“My Lord and God, I am sorry for my sin and I ask for Your mercy and forgiveness. Please help me to avoid all that leads me to sin and to surrender all my thoughts and actions to You every day. Jesus, I trust in You.”
Jesus teaches that righteousness involves responding to every situation in life in a way that fulfills God’s law, not just externally but internally as well. He knows that evil desires spring from the heart. He also knows that lust and adultery lead to even more grievous sin. That is why he discusses that the sin of adultery must first be dealt with in the heart, the place not only of the emotions, but the mind, will, thought, and intentions as well.