Our Bible reading this morning occurs just after the transfiguration, and shortly after the disciples are caught arguing about who of them is the greatest. The argument continues shortly afterwards again, with James and John asking for the highest place of honour in Jesus’s glory. It is easy to get distracted with your place in the world, comparing yourself to others, wanting to get ahead.
Sometimes it is useful to have a look at a passage in an alternate translation – it can give you a different way of looking at it.
For example – our passage this morning in “The Message” translation reads as follows:
42 “On the other hand, if you give one of these simple, childlike believers a hard time, bullying or taking advantage of their simple trust, you’ll soon wish you hadn’t. You’d be better off dropped in the middle of the lake with a millstone around your neck.
43-48 “If your hand or your foot gets in God’s way, chop it off and throw it away. You’re better off maimed or lame and alive than the proud owner of two hands and two feet, godless in a furnace of eternal fire. And if your eye distracts you from God, pull it out and throw it away. You’re better off one-eyed and alive than exercising your twenty-twenty vision from inside the fire of hell.
49-50 “Everyone’s going through a refining fire sooner or later, but you’ll be well-preserved, protected from the eternal flames. Be preservatives yourselves. Preserve the peace.”
Whether this applies to an individual believer or a local body of Christ (a local church) or both, it is pretty clear how seriously God takes sin. We therefore need to do the same. So rather than spend time plotting and planning to get ahead, it is far better to think long and hard about how what you do and say impacts those around you. As our theme says “Be careful that you don’t cause others to stumble.”