“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell….” –Mark 9:42-47
I’m always on the lookout for bones—chicken legs, pork ribs, T-bones—when I’m walking the dog. Raccoons drag bones out of dumpsters and strew them across the neighborhood. Lexi loves bones and is quick to snatch them up. Most bones are dangerous for dogs, though. Dogs can choke on bones, and jagged edges of bone in their GI tracts can lacerate their intestines. So I want to keep them away from Lexi. When I spot a gnawed bone lying in the grass, I hurriedly pick it up and throw it out of Lexi’s reach. I remove the temptation. But that bone is still lying in the open, where Lexi might find it on the next day’s walk. Sometimes we try to fling away temptations on our walk with God. We think, “Good riddance.” But the temptation isn’t really gone. It’s still lying nearby for us to stumble over another day. How do we get rid of temptation? Cut it off, pluck it out, throw it into the sea? Perhaps we can overcome it completely. Paul says, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16 ESV). Even Lexi will give up on a bone if she knows she’ll get a greater reward (a treat from me).
Dear God, Help me to overcome temptation rather than removing it until another day. Amen