Bible Reading: Matthew 19:16-26; Psalm 119:97-105
Although it is a popular story that many of us know, it is always good to revisit the story of the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19. In the story, a young man who has great wealth, possessions, and prominence in his community, approaches Jesus and asks an important question: “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” His desire is for eternal life, but it is how he seeks it which is the problem. This young man is seeking to earn his way to eternity because that is what he has been taught. He may have learned clever sayings like, “God helps those who help themselves,” and taught that God only approves of those who do good works. When Jesus presents the young man with the commandments of God, the young man claims to have followed them all, and he asks what he still lacks. I wonder why he thinks he lacks? This young man is doing one of two things when he approaches Jesus with these questions. He is either seeking affirmation and approval of a good teacher, or he does not feel secure in his good works.
I don’t know about you, but I can relate to both of these motives. There is a sense in which we all just want to know how we are doing. Is the way we are living pleasing to God, or is He disappointed in us over something? What should I change for Him to be proud? I just want God to be happy and smile on me from Heaven, so what should I do? Even when we do something good, we may wonder if it was good enough. We may not word it this way, but sometimes our actions and hearts are asking God, “What do I still lack?”
The lesson learned from this story is a matter of the heart, not a matter of works. We learn that God does care about what you do and how you are living in this world, but He cares more about your heart for Him. God does not forget or overlook the fact that we are sinners. We must remember that the beauty of the Gospel is that while we were still sinners, Christ came and died for us. The blessings of God are not necessarily material blessings, although all things come from Him. All of the blessings God gives to us, every single one of them, big and small, are meant to impact our hearts.
Call to Action: Do you know that God loves you? Do you believe that with all of your heart? If so, then do not wonder or worry about what you are lacking. In Christ, you have all that you need. He hasn’t just given your freedom and life, He has given you abundant freedom and life! We can have peace in knowing that salvation, life and peace does not depend on us and our good works, but fully on Jesus Christ alone. It is Christ who saves you and promises you eternal life. Rest in Him. Rely on Him. When you are resting in the salvation and love of your Heavenly Father, your good works and life will naturally flow from it. Consider the words of psalm 119. As he reads and learns God’s Word, he is not excited that he has found the key earning salvation. He is excited and praising God because God has revealed Himself to him and delivered him from sin. Find your joy and prosperity in Jesus, and not in this world. Salvation and peace are not possible for any man or woman to achieve. But all things are possible with God.