The Epic Life- Jacob 4:14

But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

COMMENTARY

But behold, they despised the words of plainness, and sought for things that they could not understand. Their blindness came by looking beyond the mark.
I have already mentioned how we make the mistake of seeking greatness through worldly possessions and fame, usually because that path seems more accessible than the overcoming of self necessary for spiritual enlightenment. There is yet another way that our desire for greatness can become misaligned, though.
As we see in today’s verse, that way is to “look beyond the mark.” I have known those that were caught up trying to achieve some great and important thing, even a spiritual thing, all while leaving the fundamental things that mattered most undone. There was a funeral for a man whose church members came to attest what a volunteering and sacrificing person he had been, how he had always been willing to pitch in and help wherever another member of the congregation needed it. The family of the man responded by saying that was nice, but they had never known such a person in their own home. In their life he had been an entirely absent figure, too busy taking care of things that were “more important” than his own family.
We must be careful that we do not become so obsessed with finding greatness that we fail to see the opportunities for it right in front of us. Continuing with the example of one’s own family, it is all too easy to say “many people in this world have their family, so there isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about that.” Then we might take that sector of life for granted, and look for something more unique to satiate our desire for greatness, forgetting how rare a truly happy family is in this world, and how long-reaching an investment in the home is to the lives of those that were blessed there.
As each of us seeks our own personal greatness, we ought to pause several times to consider if there is any greatness already before us that we have been overlooking because of our vanity.

The Epic Life- Matthew 19:16-17, 20-22

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, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
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

And, behold, one came and said unto him, what shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
And he said unto him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Here is a story of a young man who is on the cusp of entering into a great and epic life. He is seeking the greatest life of them all, in fact: eternal life. And he has apparently already been seeking it for years, given his statement of faithfully following all of the mosaic commandments. Yet for all this he feels that something is missing. He is basically good, but he is not extraordinary. He knows there is something better out there for him and he sincerely wants to find it.

Jesus said, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

So Jesus details the one thing he has left to do: give up the last of the world and become a disciple. Both the end of his old life and the beginning of his new in the same moment. After all, how did he hope to have a new life while still holding onto the threads of the old one?
Sadly, this was a task that the ruler was not willing to face. And he went away sorrowful, still the same man as before, or perhaps even worse for having seen his greatness and turned from it.