And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
He saith unto him, Which?
Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

COMMENTARY

…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments
I suggested yesterday that the act of becoming is more important than the act of doing, indeed the rest of this scriptural recounting bears that out. But I do not mean to suggest that doing good is not important. Frankly no one will become a Christ-like person without doing Christ-like actions. The process generally is one does first, and in so doing gradually becomes. Hence in this moment Christ begins by asking for the doing of good, and already promises blessings for meeting that call.

All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
And yet this young man still feels that something is missing in life. He’s been checking everything off the list but still isn’t satisfied. I appreciate his honesty. It doesn’t seem that he came to boast, to have Jesus validate his perfection. It seems he authentically wanted to know what the next level of discipleship entailed.

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor
Note the wording here. Jesus does not say “if thou wilt do perfectly,” he says “if thou wilt be perfect.” And while I still believe there is a reward for those that keep the commandments merely as a rite of duty, Jesus is teaching that there is a greater reward for those which become something more.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
But in this moment the young man isn’t willing to face that sacrifice. The more I think about it the more I am certain Jesus knew that giving away riches would test that man to the breaking point, which is exactly why that was called for. Because since it wasn’t in that man’s heart naturally to let go of his possessions, it was only going to occur by there being a change of heart. If giving to the poor would have been easy to the man, then Jesus would have asked him to do something else that was hard instead.

Summary
I think of my own life, and there are some commandments which are easy for me to keep and some which are hard. Take for example the commandment inherent in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: that my body is a temple and I must treat it as sacred.
Now there are multiple facets of this commandment. Partaking in illicit drugs has personally never been a temptation for me, but for a very long time I did not give my body any exercise, nor the healthy food that it deserves.
And so when God came to prick my conscience it was not to abstain from illicit drugs, I would be able to consent to that with absolutely no change of my heart whatsoever. No, instead He pricked my heart about the exercising and eating healthy food, because He knew that was only ever going to happen with a real change of heart.
Just so you know, I’d say he’s gotten about a 50% change out of me so far. I still struggle with the food aspect, but I’m not done working on my heart and certainly neither is He!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s