Better a Millstone

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.” Mark 9:42-43

Jesus was speaking in these verses, and he didn’t mince words.

He was desperately concerned that bad people were causing young believers to lose faith. Many hurtful things cause new Christians to stumble — things such as being mocked, belittled, attacked, or humiliated. Or worse, being abused by fellow “Christians.” Jesus said it would be better if a large millstone — one so big it requires a donkey to turn it — was tied around the offender’s neck and he were tossed in where the sharks roam.

Then Jesus spoke to mature believers, challenging them to get rid of whatever steals their spiritual fervour, for heaven’s sake. If one’s hand causes one to steal, cut it off. If one’s foot causes you to walks into sin, cut it off. If one’s eye images evil, cut it out.

We might take all this as figurative way of speaking, but the warning is clear. The wrongful hand, foot, and eye may be graphic metaphors for any sin. If a practice undercuts our faith, takes us away from God, or causes us to stumble, it’s better to get rid of it than to risk God’s judgment — a perfect judgment that knows if we truly believe and have been transformed by him.

What causes you to stumble? What takes you away from God rather than drawing you closer to him? What makes you want to stop believing rather than rest in peaceful trust?

Praise God that he provides his Spirit to convict us of wrongdoing. May we rely on his leading so that we can live righteously in him.

Dear God, Jesus’ words are convicting here. I know you are full of grace, and that your blood covers my sin. But I also know who much you desire to free me from things that trip me up again and again. I confess my need for your grace, forgiveness and transforming power. Please help me to keep choosing you. Amen.

By Bill Strom
Used by Permission

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