Whatever It Takes
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 crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. Matthew 18:8
I’ve wrestled with more than a few flaws. I’ve engaged in self-destructive behavior that I’ve wanted to stop but cannot. In those struggles, I’ve always prayed for miraculous change. God, just take this away. What I’ve always meant, was that I wanted to do nothing to change, while God changed me. I’ve yet for this prayer to be answered.
I’ve heard many times in church, If you’ve tried and failed a hundred times, you’re trying too hard. Stop trying. Let go and let God. It’s only when you stop that he will take the destructive desires away. Every time I heard it, I wasn’t sure why, but I was pretty sure it was bull.
There are those of course, who experience miraculous transformation. I’ve known those who ask for the thirst for alcohol to be gone and God answered. The ones I’ve known that to be true for, would be the first to tell you that they still have other struggles from which they’ve not been miraculously healed.
We should pray for miraculous healing from our struggles. Paul did (2 Corinthians 2:18). Miracles, by definition though, are rare events. For me, I needed to step out in faith, obeying God, before I saw transformation. I got my radical (miraculous) change, but it only came after I did what God asked of me.
Jesus, in today’s passage, insists that it’s not OK to just sit back, continue in our destructive behavior, and wait for God’s miracle. He says that if we are struggling with sin, we have the responsibility to do whatever it takes, to stop it. If you can’t stop doing something, you must violently cut it from your life.
For my drug addiction, this meant confession, treatment, meetings, and radical life transformation. Change is profoundly hard, which is why we fail so often. It’s easier of course, to tell ourselves we should just sit back and ask God to do it all, but that’s just using God as an excuse to continue down our destructive path. If we want to know life, joy, faith, and recovery, Jesus says we must daily do whatever it takes to turn from our path to follow his.