"Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Mark 9:50
The disciples had had some tough experiences and were in a spiritual slump. They couldn't cast out a demon because they had forgotten to pray. They had gotten into a petty argument about who was greatest. And they had tried to stop a man who was actually doing good. They had three strikes against them.
But Jesus was a gracious coach. He used their failures to teach them to be better disciples.
But he minced no words. First, Jesus talked about the seriousness of causing someone to sin. Whether it's a child or new believer, our words and actions can build others up or tear them down. Second, Jesus talked about the power of sin in our own lives. If sin is left unchecked, it will destroy us. Today, instead of talking about hands and eyes, Jesus might call us to cut out the Internet or throw out our cellphone if it leads us to sin. Third, Jesus brought up the subject of hell and described it in graphic detail. He wanted his followers to see that their actions would have eternal consequences.
But notice the hopeful message Jesus adds at the end: "Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." In other words, stay in community with fellow believers; help each other stay faithful; don't walk alone. None of us is invulnerable to sin and failure. How are you protecting yourself and the people around you?
Lord, thank you that you do not give up on us in seasons of failure. Please help us to do all we can to watch our words and guard against sin and temptation. In Jesus, Amen.
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