Blood, Sweat, and Bursitis
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Hebrews 12:4
I still work a couple days a week in urgent care and It’s that time of year when kids of all ages have gone back to their sports after a summer off. This means that I get to see a few of those kids every week with overuse injuries. They didn’t break or sprain anything. They simply have a tendonitis or bursitis from doing too much of their sport. Usually, by the time I’ve seen them, they’ve tried everything: stretching, icing, ibuprofen. Nothing seems to be helping. So, I tell them they must rest from the sport – no practice for the next week or two.
Almost invariably, I’ll hear, But if I don’t practice, I can’t play in the game. So, I ask if they can play in the game with this pain and of course, they cannot. It hurts too bad. They’ve done everything they can, yet they don’t want to give up the one thing that would make it better. They can’t give up the one thing that is causing the pain. Still, they must choose. Play or heal. They cannot have both.
I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve done it with sports, and I do it in other areas of life. In my addiction, I cried out to God that I was trying so hard to stop. I felt like I’d done everything I could but kept failing. The truth was though, that I hadn’t done enough. I’d not confessed, gone to treatment, or changed my life to get rid of the drugs. I still do this with eating today. I try so hard to eat healthy, yet I can’t stop eating chocolate chips and peanut butter at 10PM. I tell myself I’ve tried so hard, but I haven’t gotten rid of the chocolate chips or the peanut butter.
Often, we feel like we’ve just tried so hard to change, yet we continue to fail. I’ve heard some Christians suggest that we’re trying too hard. Just let go and let God. Today’s passage though, says the opposite. It points out that we’ve actually not yet given that much to resist sin. If we’re still struggling with some addiction, it’s because we’ve not done what it takes to cut it out of our lives. Jesus taught that we have a responsibility to take radical action to kill whatever causes us to sin. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away (Matthew 5:30). Jesus wasn’t teaching self-mutilation, but rather that if we’re still struggling with something, we must do whatever it takes, no matter how radical, to abandon it.