Matthew 5:30“If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Auctions are a great place for history lovers. There are so many things that show up at auctions to remind us of how life was lived in the past. Some things are very nostalgic. Others are informative. Still others make me grateful for all we have in this day and age.
Recently one of those not-so-pleasant items showed up at one of our estate antique auctions. Enclosed in a red, velvet-lined case were some Civil War tools used to perform amputations. Amputations were very common in this period of history. A new type of bullet, the slow moving Minie Ball had been invented which would shatter the bones and create devastating damage to the limbs of any soldier who was hit. There was often no way to repair this damage other than to saw off the offending limb. This had to be done in order to keep infection from spreading to the rest of the body. These amputations saved many lives.
I am thankful that the medical world has come so far in the past 150 years; it is unlikely that any of you will ever face this type of surgery. There are now so many other procedures and medicines that can ward off infection, yet there is still a place for amputation in our lives today. I am not talking about a literal amputation of a body part, but of thoughts or actions that cause us to sin.
Jesus taught great crowds throughout His ministry. In one famous lesson, the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained that sin goes beyond a particular action. Many of His listeners had the same false impression that we do today: they thought that keeping God’s commandments meant to guard oneself against specific sinful actions. But Jesus informed the crowds that even wrong thoughts are sin. He offered the example that any man with lustful thoughts about a woman has already committed adultery in his heart, even though he has kept his distance physically.
Jesus, knowing the devastation that sin can bring, charged that it is better to cut off any part of your body that is causing you to struggle than to enter into sin itself. He was not necessarily suggesting an all-out amputation of a limb, but instead illustrating the drastic measures sometimes needed to keep oneself from temptation.
In our day and age someone may need to cut off unattended computer use if inappropriate pop-ups are leading to immoral thought patterns. Others may need to disconnect from social media if reading posts has taken up too much time or caused a struggle with discontent. You may need to distance yourself from a certain group of friends, hand in a resignation, or a take a longer car drive to avoid a place that draws you to temptation. No matter how drastic the measure, it is better than allowing the infection of a sinful lifestyle to contaminate you.
Thank goodness the Civil War amputation kit, a fascinating piece of history, has been relegated to antique auctions! But we would all do well to look inside ourselves to see if there is any area in which sinful thoughts or actions have created infection. If so, be ruthless and don’t let it spread! Take drastic measures and amputate anything that may be leading you wrong. It can be gruesome, but it is a much-needed operation … and it may just save your life! — Love, Mama
Sandra Sheridan is a Midwest wife and mother of five. She shares her letters to her children with our readers. Visit her at www.VersesFromMama.com.