“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.” (Mt 18: 7-9)
Here the Lord is talking about the worst kinds of “temptations to sin,” – the kinds that are coming to us through something/someone important or dear to us, like one of our arms or feet or eyes. For example, this could be a professional or personal relationship with someone who is bad for us, or for whom we are bad, for whatever reason; or a lucrative career-opportunity that we know will be destructive to ourselves and our family; or it may be a technological tool important for our work, like 24/7 WiFi-access, if it “causes you to sin,” if you’ve developed an addiction to internet-porn or some other dark side of the world-wide web; or it may be the road we take to work or school, which may be the shortest way to get there, but also happens to take us past some “slippery place” we had better avoid, like the local pub (if we’re alcoholics), or the house of our ex, with whom we’re still obsessed.
Whatever it may be, just “cut it off and throw it away,” says the Lord, because you can. It’s painful, but you can live without it. In fact “it is better for you to enter life” – to re-enter true life, turning away from that death-bringing thing, without it. After all, just like we have more than one arm, foot, and eye, we also have more than one option when it comes to the personal, professional, and practical matters mentioned above. Lord, help me to embrace this difficult and yet simple, life-bringing word today, that I may be “maimed,” or pruned like a rose in Your garden, for new growth and new freedom in You.