Just One Little Thing

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If you want to be perfect...” (Matthew 19:21).

Oh how I wish I had been a fly buzzing around Jesus’ head when he said this. I would have loved to have heard the inflection of His voice and seen the look on His face. Obviously He was not serious because He was the only perfect man who ever walked this planet.

The scene was the appearance of a man who wanted to know what he had to do to have eternal life (19:16). Like many, he believed that salvation is the result of doing enough good stuff in life to outweigh the bad stuff that we inevitably do. Obviously this man didn’t feel as though he had arrived at that point where the scale tipped in his favour.

It would also appear that He wasn’t quite willing to give up all the doubtful things that he enjoyed. He simply wanted to make sure he did enough of the right things to make sure his eternal future was secure. When Jesus told him to keep the commandments, he asked. “Which ones?” (19:18)—a sure sign his words didn’t match his heart.  Mind you, the religious leaders had come up with more than 600 rules that the Jews were supposed to live by—no doubt it was hard to keep track of which might be major and which might be minor laws.

When Jesus listed off the major components of the latter half of the Ten Commandments (19:18, 19), the man said: “All these I have kept...” (19:20).

Really?

We’d be skeptical about that statement just because we know ourselves. Jesus KNEW with a certainty what we might only doubt. So He tested the man exactly where He knew his weak spot was.

If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (19:21).

The young man went away, sad (19:22). This last word suggests what happens when the sun is suddenly covered by a cloud. He was disappointed, gloomy, because of Jesus’ response. He’d hoped for something that wouldn’t cost him so much—a rule that he could keep without it affecting his own agenda.

But isn’t what happened here true of so many people? We are happy to allow Jesus to influence any portion of our lives that is convenient. A little “spirituality” is a good thing—those good things that we hope will outweigh the other things. The point is, following Jesus requires a commitment of everything, all we are and all we have. It might not be our wealth that we refuse to submit to Him. It could be anything, but that “anything” becomes the one thing that can keep a sinner out of the Kingdom, as it did in this case, or a saint from enjoying the full benefits of the relationship he has with God.

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