I would like to meet Aaron Ralston some day. He strikes
me as a man of uncommon character. The avid outdoorsman was descending
heart of Blue
when part of the rock wall he was climbing suddenly gave way. Ralston
quick enough to evade the falling material, and a massive 800-pound
pinned his right arm into the side of the narrow chasm.
For the better part of five days Ralston fought to keep
himself alive and pondered different escape scenarios. He licked clean
wrappers from the four candy bars he had eaten on the way to the
consumed the two burritos he had packed for energy. He sipped from his
supply, but by the third day, his canteen was empty and he began to
He tried chipping away at the rock with his pocket knife, but to no
tried moving the boulder by rigging a series of pulleys with his
but that effort failed too. Despite all of his impassioned attempts,
exhausted his supplies and his escape seemed hopeless.
Then Ralston considered the unthinkable. He realized
that he would not survive unless he took drastic action, and so with
more than a resolute spirit, the Aspen
mountaineer broke two bones in his wrist and then amputated the latter
his right arm just below the elbow with the dull blade of his pocket
Before long he was free. After fashioning a tourniquet and
aid, Ralston managed to rappel down to the bottom of the canyon floor
eventually hiked out [eight miles] to meet rescuers.
That true-life story
as something of an illustration of what the Lord taught nearly two
years ago. He said, “And
if your right hand causes you to
sin, cut if off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you
one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into
(Matthew 5:30 NKJV).
Jesus was not promoting bodily mutilation. He certainly never meant for
interpret His words in a literal sense and actually hack off our body
Rather, He was employing a figure of speech—a hyperbole, or
order to make a point. He was saying that we must “cut
away” the source of our
sinful desires; we must “amputate” those things
that cause us to be tempted. I
appreciate Tim Hall’s insight on this passage. He observes:
without radical, corrective surgery, our spirits will die (cf. Matt.
10:39; Luke 13:3).
made an appointment with the
Great Physician? Have you scheduled surgery?”
“[Ralston] surely must
have considered the ramifications of cutting off his arm. Never again
have the use of that limb. Life would be forever changed. He would need
learn new ways of doing the routine tasks of life, and some activities
have to be abandoned altogether. But the choice was clear: Did he want
or not? Keeping the arm would mean death in the wilderness. To live
require leaving his arm behind. Do we want to live or not?
Sometimes we have
to make hard choices. Something that has been a part of us all our
keeping us from total devotion to God’s will. Can we find it
to “cut it off”? Or will we die in the wilderness
of sin with our imperfect
self intact?” [Tim Hall,
“Cut It Off!” Forthright Magazine,
http://forthright.antville.org/ stories/340415/; emphasis
*For more insight to
this passage, go to
Scheduled Surgery?” (Matt.