Pay close attention to the words Jesus speaks here. Jesus doesn’t say that everyone, without exception, must cut off their right hand. He says that if your right hand causes you to stumble, then you must cut it off. Yet even with this condition, Jesus’s command is the toughest discipline ever to strike humankind. Your right hand is one of the best and most useful things you have—and still Jesus says it must go if it causes you to stumble.

After God changes you through spiritual rebirth, you will find that there are a hundred and one perfectly legitimate things you dare not do, because they break your concentration on him. These things are like your right hand: in your eyes and the eyes of the world, they appear good, even necessary. When you begin to cut them out, your life will be maimed and scarred. Unspiritual people will be appalled. “What on earth is wrong with that?” they’ll ask. “How absurd you’re being!” Remember, when this happens, how and why you’ve been given your new insight. Jesus Christ is using his Spirit to warn you away from things which are no longer right for you. These things may still be perfectly fine for everyone else. Make sure you do not use your new limits to criticize others.

There has never been a saint who didn’t lead a maimed life at first. But it is better to enter into life maimed and lovely in God’s sight than to be lovely in the eyes of the world and unfit in God’s. Take heart, and remember that your life will not always be maimed. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus gives a picture of the life he desires you to lead, a life that is full-orbed, a life in him: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Wisdom from Oswald

To read the Bible according to God’s providential order in your circumstances is the only way to read it, viz., in the blood and passion of personal life. Disciples Indeed, 387 R