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February 26 | Matthew 19:16-30


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Clueless? Stick with Jesus

by Pr. Dave Mann

Jesus immediately detects what the problem is with this man. The way the man words his initial question shows that he has not begun to acknowledge the depth of his sin and that all the “good” he could do is tainted by the selfish evil in his heart. He thinks that he can deserve heaven by impressing God with his goodness. After the self-revelatory question, he has the audacity to ask Jesus to narrow the scope of God’s commandments he is obligated to keep by asking “Which ones?” Jesus deigns to walk with the man down that path by itemizing some of The Ten Commandments—murder, adultery, theft, stealing, false testimony, honoring of parents, and then the all-inclusive command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Digging his hole even deeper, the man claims, “All these I have kept. What’s left?”

 

At this display of clueless audacity, Jesus springs the trap. He places his finger directly on the first, biggest, and all-consuming idol in the man’s life. This man is unaware that he has not even begun to keep the first commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Every day he is bowing before the god of Mammon and doesn’t even realize it. So, Jesus declares that the one “good thing” that is left is the first and most important thing—to place his Mammon god on the altar and to dedicate it to serve the living God.

 

The man slinks away, deeply saddened because he thought he had just a little thing left when in reality he has a massive thing. The man is not willing to address the depth of his sin, and to acknowledge that he cannot work his way into heaven. So, he walks away.

 

The disciples are as astonished at the man. Perhaps their hearts are sympathetic to the rich man's plight, but they do not walk away. They stay with Jesus to learn more. They lament that Jesus’ standards might be so high that none will be saved — to which Jesus replies, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” That’s where the truly repentant cast themselves, seeking mercy, at the feet of God.

 

Where do we start? We begin with the recognition that Mammon is the most worshipped idol in our own culture. We have this god, just like the man. Don’t deny it but stay with Jesus. Keep asking him to put his finger on what you need to confess. We need the true God to lead us into everlasting life.

 

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, I am no doubt just as clueless as this man. But I don’t want to walk away. I recognize it may be difficult for me to identify my own idols, and to confess my sin as a way of life. Lord, I need grace from the start to the finish. It is only by your mercy that I will be saved. So I want to stay close to the source of all mercy — Jesus’ name, Amen.







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1 Comment


robin.lorms
Feb 26

Good morning, Pastor Dave. Thank you for today's commentary on this challenging conversation with Jesus.

Yesterday at the LR campus Aaron's sermon was on Mark's version of this encounter with the rich, young man. As you pointed out, the Matthew version adds "love your neighbor as yourself." I don't know anyone who could answer this command in the affirmative. Not one! I sure don't.

As I review my "idols" the one that always comes to mind is my idol of "comfort". We have been retired for several years and live a comfortable life. The Holy Spirit convicts me periodically but, on balance, our lifestyle remains comfortable. We do not give of our treasure at a level that requires sacrifice other…


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