29If your right eye causes you to sin, 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. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, 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. (Matthew 5:29-30, NIV)
The Sermon on the Mount has some astounding principles, some tremendous truths, and some “nuggets” you have to dig for. But the truth contained in the Scripture above isn’t something you have to dig out; it’s plain and simple… and very hard preaching by Jesus.
Oswald Chambers calls the Christian life a “maimed life” in that, as a Christian, you have to avoid doing certain things that you may consider sin that others may not. Oswald says,
“Yet it is better to enter into life maimed but lovely in God’s sight than to appear lovely to man’s eyes but lame to God’s. At first, Jesus Christ through His Spirit has to restrain you from doing a great any things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. Yet, see to it that you don’t use your restrictions to criticize someone else.”
Ever been there? I’m sure you have. I have numerous times. As God continues to reveal Himself to us and clean us up from the inside-out, there are things that become sinful to us that earlier had not. There are many things like that for me, such as drinking.
I grew up in a family of alcoholics. My dad drank heavily. My mom drank. They divorced but each continued on their own path of self-destruction. My mom finally sought help with it late in life and my dad finally stopped after a heart attack late in life. I was around it all the time. I saw what it did.
Yet I drank, too. In high school and in college I drank… heavily. I was what you would call a “problem drinker”. If I drank, it wouldn’t be just one or two beers. I would drink to get drunk. And normally I would find some sort of trouble or it would find me.
In the late 80’s, it caught up to me as I was arrested for DUI. I went through VASAP and saw the two- and three-time offenders there and the path of self-destruction that alcohol was taking their lives. I committed then and there that would not be me.
I didn’t drink at all for a few years, but then started again in the early 90’s. I was saved in ’96 and met Sharon in ’98. At some point, God used Sharon to get me to quit drinking and help me ask myself the question, “Why do I drink?” There wasn’t a good answer that lined up with God’s Word or that set well with the Holy Spirit living inside me. I had to “maim” that part of my life… and it didn’t happen immediately after I was saved. It took time for God to reveal it to me.
One last point: Now the temptation for me is to do the exact thing that Oswald talks about in that last sentence above: to criticize other Christians who drink. I’ve done it in NFL class on Monday nights and I’ve done it one-on-one with a guy over lunch.
What I have to remind myself of is that we’re all on a journey and God will reveal Himself to each of us in His time and in His way.