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Friday, November 15, 2013

Pluck out Thine eye, and Cut of Thine Hand

As I have been on my mission, I have gained a new found desire to learn more about our savior and apply what He has taught. As a mission, we have memorized a part of the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants (121: 33-46). This part teaches us how God leads us, and how we must become effective leaders. Such as reproving with love, and showing love afterward to who we have reproved, and to not exercise dominion unrighteously. When we memorize true principles, we can, more fully, give our will to God. The section in section 121 is but a small part of the Lord's teachings. Understanding this principle gave me a desire to memorize other teachings of the Lord. The main one, that came to my mind, is the very famous "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5, 6, and 7). (There is also a Sermon given to the Nephites with the same teachings in 3 Nephi) The teachings here are as plain as plain can be; and, as Nephi wrote, "For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding." (2 Nephi 31: 3) Therefore, as I gain insights as I memorize this historical sermon, I will share my understanding.

This first one I wish to address is found in Matthew 5: 28-30:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

This scripture may be interpreted as, "you need to pluck out your eye, or cut off your hand if they have caused you to sin or else you aren't going to heaven." If this was, truly the case, than we would see a lot of Mormons (and other Christians) without hands, eyes, and other parts which they have "offended." But, Our body is a gift from God. Without it, we would not be able to bring about His eternal purposes. This is not what Christ meant. So, the question comes to mind, "Then what did he mean?"
If you know someone really well, you know their habits. Their habits are what makes them, unique. Their habits are a part of them, just as an eye, or a hand. Thus, we need to cast aside our sins. It is not uncommon for Christ to teach in parables.  The Prophet Joseph Smith jr., translated a little bit more to that part of Matthew pertaining to that concept. "And now this I speak, a parable concerning your sins; wherefore, cast them from you, that ye may not be hewn down and cast into the fire." Thus the entire verse of Matt 5: 30 ought to read, "And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And now this I speak, a parable concerning your sins; wherefore, cast them from you, that ye may not be hewn down and cast into the fire." 
So, in other words, Christ is telling us to repent, to change our ways. Repenting does hurt, and it may feel like we are cutting off our hand, and plucking out our eye. Changing (or repenting) begins with little things. Alma taught his son, Helaman "... by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." (Alma 37: 6) I thought of a quote while writing this, and I will close it. It goes something like this:

"Be careful about your thoughts, for they become your words; be careful about your words, for they become your actions; be careful about your actions, for they become your habits; be careful about your habits, for they become your character; be careful about your character, for that is who you are."

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