Newsletter February 2019
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honour your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.”
As Jesus travels along, He is approached by this man, commonly known as the “rich young ruler” (cf. Matthew 19:20 & Luke 18:18). The man asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. He appears to be quite sincere: he addresses Jesus respectfully as “Good Teacher” and nothing is mentioned that would suggest ulterior motives. This man clearly knows the requirements of the Law and seeks to fulfil these to the best of his ability, yet something is lacking in his life. He senses that there must be more to serving God than he has experienced so far.
Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 10:21)
Jesus knows this young man; and He loves him. He knows that his trust is in his possessions, and therefore He challenges him to let go of them. For the young man, however, this is asking too much. He would probably have been willing to give away something of what he had. But everything? Surely God would not require such a great sacrifice of him. Had God not blessed him with his wealth in the first place? Is God not a rewarder of those who serve Him?
Yes, God rewards of those who seek His face. He blesses those who serve and worship Him. But God wants us to trust in Him alone. He knows our hearts; He knows where our affections are. And He will challenge us on the things that are dearest to us. Are we willing to forsake all for Him? Will we set our minds on things above or on things on the earth? (Colossians 3:2) Do we find confidence and security in what we have and can do? Or do we rely entirely on the Eternal One, the Creator, who holds the universe in the palm of His hand?
God has blessed us in many ways. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. (James 1:17) Yet we are not to focus our lives on the blessings we have received - our careers, our wealth, our reputations, our ministries, or even our families. God wants to know that our sufficiency is in Him alone. He will test us with the things dearest to us. He will challenge us to see where our affections really are.
So what if we do put God before everything else? What if we really give up all to follow Him? What if we have truly made Him the centre of our lives and live to fulfil His will rather than our own? Jesus assures us that there is no one who has left [all] for His sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time …and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
We can only experience the fullness of God’s presence if we truly make Him the centre of our lives. Therefore let us live our lives for God. Let us invest in His kingdom. Let us not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18).
In what area is Jesus challenging you? Are you like the disciples, who let go of everything to follow Him? Or are you like the rich young ruler who held on to what he deemed his and walked away sorrowfully. Jesus loved him but He could do nothing for him. One day we will all have to give account and many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Mark 10:31)