Special Favor

If you wish to be perfect…  Matthew 19:13-22  One perspective of this passage is that the rich man wasn’t satisfied with fulfilling the commandments. Yet, although God had generously provided for him, why was fulfilling the commandments not enough? I don’t recall anywhere in the Hebrew scriptures where God required his people to give up everything they have in exchange for his favor. Even as the Israelites were leaving Egypt they took valuable commodities of , wheat, gold and silver with them (Exodus 12:34-36). Since he was following the commandments, Perhaps the rich man didn’t expect an answer but rather a special pat on the back, a job well done, a worthy praise.  Jesus instead suggests he go the extra mile! Suddenly perfection doesn’t seem so appealing. Each of us is called to live according to God’s commandments. With that, we are rewarded with good consciousness in knowing that we have done all of what God has asked. While this is commendable, it doesn’t necessarily bring us special favor, for even in our imperfection, God loves without respect of person. However, I believe true perfection comes when we are able to completely replace the world’s valuable commodities with God and a life through Christ in both thought and action.  …go sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me. Until then, in faith and reverent fear, we do our utmost to strive towards what is good and perfect. 

Then What?

“Teacher, what good deeds must I do…?”  Matthew 19:13-22  This discourse reminds me of a an exercise I participated in while at a business conference. We were asked to find solutions to a problem by continually asking the question; “Then what?”  The rich man in this passage seems to play this game with Jesus until he gets an answer that leaves him silent. “Sell your possessions, give the money to the poor…then come follow me.”  Perhaps he should have stopped at just keeping the commandments. We all get to a place in our lives where we want to move forward until we realize in order to do so we have to let something go and the trade off is scary. Then What? Of course like the rich man, Jesus also gives us something to consider. When we are willing to let go of the thing that holds us back, we give ourselves the opportunity to experience God’s love and faithfulness as something greater than all our fears.