Matthew 18: 6-9 aka The Pinocchio Dilemma

Reflecting on Mt 18: 6-9 and sin. This passage sticks with me for awhile every time I read it. I am sure I’ve written about it before because it is a passage which serves as a giant kick in the pants to not sin.

I might walk around thinking “I mean, is this really a sin?” or “This sin really isn’t that bad.” And I might think that. But I’d be wrong.

Jesus makes it very clear that being wrong about our sins is very bad. And so we must (1) recognize what causes us to sin, (2) stop sinning (aka we change our ways), and (3) repent.

It is so crucial that we figure out how to stop sinning and if we can’t do it out of willpower then we really should take what it is that causes us to sin and figure out a way permanently remove it from our being. Perhaps we don’t really need to cut off our hand, but perhaps we do?

The consequence of my sin is death, eternal death. I’d sure like to have eternal life. And so if it were to comes down to cutting off my hand or not going to heaven I would need to be bold enough to cut off my own hand. Again, hopefully that’d just be a metaphor for how important not sinning is. But then again Jesus isn’t equivocal. Jesus is clear on His message.

From those thoughts I then thought about the following…

In life so many sins are invisible. I could be a terrible sinner at “X” and since it doesn’t have a physical manifestation on my person (examples: Pinocchio’s nose or having to wear a Scarlet Letter) then it remains hidden from external view. I know my sin, God knows my sin, but others likely don’t know — and if they do know the only consequence is knowledge and not a drastic physical punishment — and so I may be tempted to falsely think “My sin isn’t that bad.”

(P.S. How great is God’s love that He allows us the free will to sin and then keeps it between us and Himself so that we have time to recognize our sin and repent for it!)

So I was thinking about temporal life vs eternal life — and how here on earth we walk around perhaps not recognizing the extreme error of our sins, not feeling bad for sinning, and we stay in a state of sinfulness rather than taking Jesus’ words to heart that we must change and repent — because, after all, who can see my sin?

But here’s a new thought I had… What will I look like in heaven???? What will others look like in heaven?

If I am sinning so badly and at my particular judgment I discover that I was waaaay off on my understanding of the impact/effect of my sins and then I am lovingly given the choice to cut off my hand, for example, so that I can go to heaven then I would (hopefully!) choose to cut off my hand. I want eternal life no matter the cost.

(Which begs the reflection – if I think I am willing to do that at that time then why not change my ways now and not have to even face that choice later?)

Beyond those thoughts of self I was then just picturing people in heaven — and how we have this conception of our bodies/beings in heaven and that we’ll just be in this perfect state of however that looks like. And we’ll all be smiling and worshipping God.

But if I were to look around me would I see people without hands, without feet, without eyes, without “X” — because, like me, they took Jesus’ words to heart almost too late.

And so after all our invisible sin is truly visible — not just to God, not just to myself, but to everyone.

And if there is such visible evidence of my earthly sinfulness which will last eternally how much more should I be compelled right here, right now to do what I can to make sure that I don’t even need to face that choice of crippling or maiming myself.

And so I must reflect on my thoughts, words, actions and inaction and recognize sin for its sinfulness. I must acknowledge any major sins in my life and figure out what it is that is causing me to sin and then I must do everything in my power (and relying on Jesus’ power!) to overcome that sin so that I can enter into eternal life with Him as He calls me to be.

I am not perfect, but I can do my utmost to try to be perfect.

After all, the consequences are too great!

Matthew 18: 6-9 Temptations to Sin.6d “Whoever causes one of these little ones* who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.7* Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!8e If your hand or foot causes you to sin,* cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life maimed or crippled than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into eternal fire.9And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into fiery Gehenna.

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