What Would You Give Up?

Vernon, Florida is a small town located in the state’s panhandle.  It, by reputation, is commonly called “Nub City.”  This moniker was earned in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  During this time the area was economically depressed.  It seems that some of its residents found a way to bring in money.  During this period, this town accounted for 2/3 of all insurance claims for dismemberment in the country.  This town, with a population which fluctuated between 500 and 800, had 50 citizens lose body parts.  There were hunting accidents, farming accidents, and home accidents of various kinds.  One source says, “Hard times have befallen the residents of countless American small towns, but few have fought back so boldly as many of the citizens of Vernon, Florida who found that severing their limbs could be even more lucrative than using them” (Vernon, Florida, atlasobscura.com).  To be fair, no one was ever convicted for insurance fraud.  However, many of the circumstances were suspicious (e.g. multiple insurance policies taken out shortly before the accident, one man had at least 28 policies, one victim had a tourniquet in his pocket at the time of his accident and happened to be driving his wife’s car which had an automatic transmission and not his truck with a manual transmission which he ordinarily used, etc.).  “Insurers took many of the Nub Club members to court.  The problem was convincing a jury that a man with any sense at all would have the gumption to aim a rifle at one of his appendages and pull the trigger” (‘Nub City’: Vernon, Florida’s Decade-Long Insurance Scam by Brooks Hays, mentalfloss.com).

The epidemic of accidents came to an end in the early 1960’s.  This coincided with insurance companies changing how they did business in the area.  Some raised premiums astronomically.  Others refused to do business in this area.

Many will go to great extremes for financial benefit; let us ask to what extent you would go to make it to heaven? Jesus sad, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you.  For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30).

No, this is not to be understood literally.  Who is tempted by the right eye and not the left (except a one-eyed person)?  Who is tempted by the right hand and not the left (except a one-handed person)?  Furthermore, sin is actually a product of the heart and mind (Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7a; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 12:1-2).

The meaning is that we should seek to eliminate conduits of temptation and stumbling blocks from our lives, so far as possible (cf. Romans 13:14).  Albert Barnes comments, “His design was to teach that the dearest objects, if they cause us to sin, are to be abandoned” (Barnes Notes).  This might include “friends,” books, T.V. shows, certain music, internet surfing, the place one lives, or job.  Are we willing to pay the price?  The N.I.V. Study Bible comments, “Jesus is not teaching self-mutilation, for even a blind man can lust.  The point is that we should deal as drastically with sin as necessary.”  This is what is needed.   The E.S.V. Study Bible says of this context, “Jesus uses deliberate overstatement to emphasize the importance of maintaining exclusive devotion to one’s spouse.  Even things of great value should be given up if they are leading a person to sin.”  Are you willing to be a part of the Nub Club?

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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