Jesus said “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Mat. 5:30). Jesus speaks metaphorically, not literally, to illustrate an essential truth—arguably one of the most important of His teachings.
These words form part of the “Sermon on the Mount” where Jesus calls His followers to a higher order of obedience. While the Mosaic Law certainly required compliance, Jesus required obedience from heart. He was warning us of the cost of such obedience—always accompanied by sacrifice. “Cutting off your right hand” means giving up who we think we are, how we define ourselves, in exchange for what Christ teaches us we can be in relationship to him. We must be willing to throw away our old ways that keep us from doing so—and there is no compromise. Speaking as a counselor, I know that this kind of obedience is as psychologically painful as losing an arm or a leg, or “your right hand.”
Some years ago, William Backus wrote a book “Misbelief Therapy: Telling Yourself the Truth.” I didn’t care much for the book, but I loved the title! In Isaiah 44, the prophet describes how idols are made from a block of wood you can hold in your hand, and he asks the rhetorical question: “is there not a lie in your right hand?” We must ask ourselves ‘what are we holding on to?’