Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thanks for your prayer for my health. I am recovering quite well even though I still have some lingering coughs today. Praise God for giving me time to rest; my body was just craving for sleep in the last couples of days. I thought I was well enough to do some chores at home, but my body just shut down on me after a few hours. I guess sickness could be a blessing in disguise; God uses sickness to deal with the chronic problem of workaholics in this high-tech and Internet world .
"And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell" (Matthew 5:30). Jesus did not say that everyone must cut off the right hand, but - If your right hand offends you in your walk with Me, cut it off. There are many things that are perfectly legitimate, but if you are going to concentrate on God you cannot do them. Your right hand is one of the best things you have, but, says Jesus, if it hinders you in following His principles, cut it off. This line of discipline is the sternest one that ever struck mankind.
When God alters a man by regeneration, the characteristic of the life to begin with is that it is “crippled.” There are a hundred and one things you dare not do, things that to you and in the eyes of the world that knows you are as your right hand and your eye, and the ungodly person says - What is wrong in that? How ridiculous you are! There never has been a saint yet who did not have to live a “crippled life” to start with. But it is better to enter into life crippled and lovely in God's sight than to be lovely in man's sight and lame in God's. In the beginning Jesus Christ by His Spirit has to check you from doing a great many things that may be perfectly right for everyone else but not right for you. See that you do not use your limitations to criticize someone else.
It is a “crippled life” to begin with, but in v.48 Jesus gives the picture of a perfectly satisfied and out of the world kind of life that you will eventually become - "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
The story of "Jacob wrestling with God" came to my mind. He was a man with “street smart.” Jacob was more than a survivor and a successful businessman, who knew how to manipulate things and people for his own agenda. He moved up quickly to get what he wanted. If he were to live in our history today, he would easily make more money than Warren Buffet (the top three richest men in the world). But his success did not come without expenses or costs to his life - he had a lot of problems with his family and extended family. The most critical turning point of his life was when Jacob decided to reconcile with his past – his broken relationship with his brother Esau. He knew how much it might cost him and to his family. He had calculated his risks but he still did not have peace inside. God came to wrestle with Jacob one night and turned him into a crippled man (Gen 32:24). But God also blessed him with a new name called Israel, which means “he has wrestled with God” or “he has been saved by God.” Indeed his "disability" became his sign of regeneration or salvation.
Any sincere seekers of Truth would have “wrestled with God” in some points of their lives. They may wrestle with God mentally, emotionally, spiritually, relationally or in some kind of important issues in life. And the common result through this “spiritual struggle” is a crippled life or a life of humility – willfully laid down their personal rights, freedom, convenience or comfort for the sake of a godly life. I guess this is the quality of life that God separates mankind from other creatures on earth. And this is the kind of "life goal" that we are all called to attain. “Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins” (Heb 12:1 Message).
Love you as fellow runners of His race,