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Cut It Out… Or Be Cut Off

There were two common expressions the parents of teenagers in my neighbors used while trying to discipline unruly kids. The first was “knock it off,” but my dad often said, “cut it out.” When your father is a former defensive end and tight end in college, you do exactly what he says. One Old Testament prophet and Jesus make similar points in the passages below:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness. None sues or calls in righteousness [but for the sake of doing injury to others—to take some undue advantage]; no one goes to law honestly and pleads [his case] in truth; they trust in emptiness, worthlessness and futility, and speaking lies! They conceive mischief and bring forth evil! – Isaiah 59:1-4

I came face to face with this expression during the summer before my senior year of college. While playing sand volleyball with my good friend Eddy, I broke my ankle. Instead of enjoying my final month of summer, I was bed-ridden for two weeks. While lying in bed, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper “cut if out or be cut off”. Like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:15-16, I had become a lukewarm Christian.

 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:1-5.

In the days that followed, I had come to a crossroads of faith. This was God’s way of saying, “make Jesus Lord of your life, Romans 10:9-11, or live for yourself.” At college I was a strong Christian, but at home in Cleveland I was chasing after earthly pleasures. August of 1991 altered my prodigal journey as I came to my spiritual senses to return home for good by beginning to cut out my former way of life, Colossians 3:5-9. May my personal journey inspire you to go all in by making Jesus Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

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