Pluck It Out or Cut It Off
Over a year ago in Texas, there was a man accused of killing and mutilating the bodies of his wife, son, and stepdaughter. He had been arrested and was being held at the Grayson County jail in Sherman. The man was under suicide watch in full view of a nearby booking area when something unbelievable happened. An officer who witnessed the scene said that the prisoner turned his back to the jailers, knelt, and screamed. He then turned around with his right eyeball in his hand. The prisoner then referred to Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:29,30 - "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell."

The words of our Lord are certainly challenging in this passage, though He never intended for them to be interpreted and implemented literally. Self-mutilation is not advocated by these verses. This truth is easily confirmed by showing that God wants us to care for our bodies to the best of our ability. I Corinthians 6:19,20 says - "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." To mutilate one's body does not bring glory to the Almighty. Additionally, to literally pluck out an eye (or two) will not cure one's struggle with sin. The problem ultimately resides in the heart (mind), not in the organ of sight. One can be guilty of lust whether he has two, one, or no functional eyes!

Jesus' point is in emphasizing the far greater worth of one's spirit over one's physical body. He exhorts us to do whatever it takes to keep from sinning. No physical sacrifice is too great! Truly, it is better to give up even the dearest and most precious things in this life, than to lose one's soul in hell. In a sense, as faithful disciples, we must blind ourselves by choosing not to look with lustful eyes (Matt. 5:28); we must put to death the lust of the flesh (cf. Col. 3:5; I John 2:15-17).

The thought expressed by Jesus in verse 30 is similar to that of the previous verse. The only difference is that here He refers to cutting off a hand, as opposed to plucking out an eye. Again, the problem does not lie in the physical hand itself. The hand takes orders from the head. If one uses his hands in sinful ways (to steal, for instance), having one less hand will not resolve the problem.

Friends, don't jeopardize your salvation over any physical thing. Be willing to make sacrifices--even great ones--if such is necessary to save your soul! Only a fool would refuse to sacrifice a hobby, a job, a dream, a relationship, or anything else that would cause his eternal home in heaven to be lost. Don't be a fool! Although many things on this Earth have value, none can compare to your priceless soul.