BEING RADICAL AND SALTY
Lord, make me a salty believer.
Read MARK 9:42–50
Causing to Stumble
42 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  [a] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  [b] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where
“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’[c]
49 Everyone will be salted with fire.
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
a Mark 9:44 Some manuscripts include here the words of verse 48.
b Mark 9:46 Some manuscripts include here the words of verse 48.
c Mark 9:48 Isaiah 66:24
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Thanks be to God, who … uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Cor 2:14).
Today’s passage is somewhat disturbing to read. The phrase “these little ones – those who believe in me” in verse 42 probably alludes to the term “child” in verses 36 and 37, in which case Jesus is referring to new believers who have yet to mature in their faith and discipleship. The phrase “causes … to stumble” means “causes to sin”, so Jesus issues a stern warning here: do not cause a new believer to sin. Believers belong to God’s family, so causing a fellow believer to sin contradicts family values and is a heinous offense.
Jesus then switches to talking about what might cause the believers themselves to sin (43–48). Clearly, Jesus does not want us literally to remove a hand, foot, or eye, but His warning reveals how radically and decisively He wants us to deal with the causes of sin. We must not dabble in sin, take it lightly, or get accustomed to it. Jesus requires the removal of anything that can lead us to sin (See also Matt 5:29,30). We can do without a hand, foot, or eye, but not eternal life (FJ Moloney, The Gospel of Mark, Hendrickson, 2002, p191).
In verses 49 and 50, Jesus suddenly introduces the topic of salt. We use salt to preserve and flavor food, but in biblical times with no refrigeration, salt was a far more precious commodity. Spiritually speaking, pursuing a life of holiness and taking radical action when something causes us to sin preserves us and keeps us salty. Sin and the pursuit of greatness threaten the righteousness that must characterize God’s family. Believers should strive to keep sin at bay and to be last and least.
Reflect on whether you cause others or yourself to stumble and how you can radically deal with it. Consider how your life can preserve and flavor the lives of others.
Lord, make us super sensitive against providing the occasion to sin for those around us, especially new and young believers.
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