Monday, December 10, 2007

Possessions, Or Eternal Life

Matthew 19:21 "If you want to be perfect," Jesus said to him, "go sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me."

The man we know as the Rich Young Ruler has come and ask Jesus what he needs to do to to have eternal life. If someone came to you and asked you that question what would you say? I bet it would not be what Jesus said here. First Jesus told this young man that if he wanted to receive eternal life he should keep the commandments. The young man responded, "Which commandments?" Jesus replied, "do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, love you neighbor as yourself." The young ruler then replied that he had done all of this since his youth and asked what else he was lacking. So Jesus told him; if you want eternal life, sell what you have, give the money you make to the poor, and follow Me. And the man went away grieving because he had a lot of stuff.

So what we see here is Jesus sending away a man who genuinely wanted eternal life. The problem though was that he was not willing to give up his possessions and could not admit that he was a sinner. This man had made an idol out of his possessions; they had taken the place of God for him, and when Jesus confronted him on it he chose his stuff over eternal life.

The other thing that Jesus did was tell him that he needed to keep the commandments, which he said he had done since his youth. Jesus has been making the point throughout His ministry that keeping the commandments goes beyond mere outward obedience (see Matthew 5-7) and that even if a person keeps the law perfectly on the outside, we are all still guilty on the inside. The response of this man should have been, "I am a sinful man and I have broken these commandments in my heart, how then can I be saved?" But the mans pride would not allow him to do this.

The last thing that Jesus said was "follow Me." It is not enough to say that you believe in Jesus, or to just say a prayer asking Jesus to come into your heart, we need to follow Him. That means that we need to know Him, to study His word, and do what He did. This does not mean that we are earning our salvation, we could never do that - Jesus did it all. But if we are truly born again we will want to do everything that we can to please our Lord.
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