Mark 9:42-50 (ESV)
42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Jesus firmly declared that all his followers must guard themselves against causing of someone’s sin. In fact, it would be wiser for a woman to get a great round millstone, which was used for grinding wheat and could weigh many pounds, put it around her own neck, and then toss herself overboard from a ship than to spiritually mislead one of Jesus’ followers. Jumping into the sea with a millstone attached to the neck would ensure a trip to the bottom of the ocean. It is important that we be extremely careful when interfacing with others. We never want to be the reason for another’s stumble, downfall, or departure from the faith. Jesus graphically illustrated to the disciples that if their hand should cause them to fall away, then they should cut it off. If the foot should cause them to fall away, cut it off. The same was true of the eye; so even if their precious eye should cause them to fall away, get rid of it. One would be better off having no hand, no foot, and no eye, but entering the kingdom of God than going to hell with her body parts intact. The point was clear. Those who follow Jesus must be willing to do whatever it takes to deal with sin in their lives. God wants us to pursue holiness, even when the things we highly value stand between us and receiving eternal life.
We have to be super cautious when it comes to condoning or lowering the bar concerning others’ sins. When we relax about iniquity and wrongdoing as representatives of Christ, we act as if God doesn’t really care about sin that much. When we say, “Who cares? Relax!” and “Don’t worry about it!” instead of giving helpful advice about how to battle iniquity, we misrepresent Jesus. If an area of our life causes us to stumble or fall, let’s exercise radical amputation, doing whatever we can to cut it off at the source, not excusing and overlooking it. You won’t find Jesus telling anyone to “relax” when it comes to her struggle with sin. Let’s make sure we have the same attitude toward wickedness that Jesus had. May these truths drive us to the cross, and cause us to cling to the mercy of God again today.