Summary: Jesus tells us to make decisions and choices with an eye toward how it will impact others in your life – spouse, children, family, neighbors, fellow church members, co-workers, people in the community.
Walkin’ with Jesus:
Limping through Life with You in Mind
Scripture Text: Mark 9.42-50
He’s talking about living in relationship with others!.. That’s-what Jesus is talking-about in this passage… Now, there’s a-whole-lot going-on here ~ …dramatic and attention-grabbing-stuff ~ …But, what-it-all boils-down-to is that Jesus is talking to His followers, …to people like you-and-me ~ …people who’ve decided to walk with Jesus. And-what He says is powerful… challenging-stuff; …And it-has-to-do-with our relationships with others!
Do you know that you have a tremendous amount of influence on others?
It’s extremely-naïve to think that our actions don’t have a tremendous-amount-of-influence on the people around us!
[Use personal illustration of people that have had a positive impact on you and your faith-walk.]
My decision to accept Christ as Savior was largely influence by consistent, caring-acts toward me-and-my-family that-made the difference.
You will have no-idea how large-your-influence-is on-other-people, …until you open your eyes to see all-the-ways and all-the-opportunities that you can plant-seeds, …and make impressions, …and have an impact in big-and-small ways on those around you! We all have an influence ~ for good-or-bad; …we all leave an impression ~ positive-or-negative. There’s no-escaping this reality!.. Whether you realize-it, or-not: …you are influencing other in significant-ways. By the way you handle your emotions, …to the way that you fulfill your promises and vows, …to the way that you manage information that comes down the grapevine, …to the ways that you manage your money, …to the things you invest your time-and-energy in. Each one of us has an impact on the people around you!
There’s a-lot in this passage that’s-attention-grabbing ~ …and we’re gonna-get-to-that, in-a-minute ~ …but we often skip-right-over the-whole-point, of-what Jesus is talking-about. “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin…”
He’s talkin’-about our relationships within the church, …relationships between-and-among believers. And-the-heart of the issue is the influences that we have on others ~ …and Jesus is warning us: “Don’t drag others down”!
II. Cut It Out!
The bulk of these verses is some pretty-dramatic-stuff. Cutting and chopping and gouging… It’s attention-grabbing! If your hand, …or your foot, …or your eye causes you to sin ~ “This is serious business” Jesus is saying. Don’t blow-it-off! Don’t dismiss-it.
But, this is much-bigger than a personal-issue. If we read these verses by-themselves, …it sounds-like this is just-about our personal eternal-destiny… that you need-to-do whatever-it-takes to rid-your-life of sin.
Now, I don’t know of a single Bible-scholar or pastor who says Jesus means-for-us to take this literally. But, He uses these graphic, jarring-illustrations to make a point, …and the point is: ”This is serious business! “Sin has no plae in the life of believers. “Sin carries with it, consequences.” Undesirable consequences. Eternal consequences. And you don’t-wanna-go-there! You don’t wanna allow sin to rule the members of your body. And-so, whatever-it-is ~ that’s leading you into sin ~ …cut-it-out! Get rid of it!
Now, one-of-the-reasons we-know that Jesus isn’t being literal, here, is because we all know that the hand doesn’t cause anyone to sin! Nor does your foot. The same-goes for your eye ~ …the parts of our bodies don’t cause us to sin. That cames from somewhere else ~ …somewhere deep within us.
Jesus-himself helped us to see the nature of sin when He said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’”
In-other-words, sin takes shape in our hearts and imaginations ~ …not when the members-of-our-bodies act-it-out! The hand is not the problem ~ …it’s the heart that entertains thoughts of sin. The eye is not the problem ~ …it’s the imagination that is not content with what God has blessed us with! Your feet aren’t dragging you into sin ~ …unwilling and captive to your feet’s desires!
No! The problem is deeper within us ~ And Jesus’ warning to us is: This is serious business, with serious consequences. You don’t wanna go there! You don’t wanna live with the results. You don’t want to live in sin ~ …so cut it out! Make changes now! Do what-it-takes to free-yourself of the influences in your life that pull you toward sin.
But ~ the thing-is, that this is a much-bigger issue than a personal, private-thing. Your choices ~ …no-matter how hidden or private ~ …your choices have serious ripple-effects on other-people! As followers of Jesus, …we must not lead others into sin. I hope I’ve already-established that we all have tremendous-influence over others. You don’t-have-to-be a president or a Senator, …a CEO or a movie-star, …in-order-to impact others. You don’t have-to-be a board-member or a pastor, …a Sunday-School-teacher or a missionary to sway others in their walk with God. All you have to be is a friend, …or a parent, …or a classmate! The beauty of the church is that there’s no hierarchy.