Tuesday, September 5, 2023

First Things First

 Tuesday, September 5, 2023 Some material taken from The Impossible Possibility

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-17


First Things First

Sunday morning Andrew Williamson spoke about a young man in the Bible who was wealthy – the rich young ruler. He asked Jesus what good thing he had to do to go to heaven. Jesus told him that if he would have eternal life, he must keep God’s commandments. The man wanted to know which ones and Jesus told him some of the commandments to which he replied he already did all those things. He did not understand what he lacked since he had lived a “good” life. Jesus then told him he need to sell all his worldly possessions and give the money to the poor and then he would have treasure in heaven. Jesus then invited the rich young ruler to follow Him. Instead of following Jesus, he went away sad because he had great possessions.  

This young man realized that he could not do the one thing that Jesus said for him to do because he could not part with his possessions. Jesus told him that he needed to sell all of his possessions for this very reason – he already knew that this man loved his possessions more than he loved God, and more than he was willing to sacrifice to have eternal life. His love for his possessions would keep him from following Jesus and would keep him from having eternal life. 

Jesus exposes the reality that there is no good in this man that would ever merit eternal life, but the man is completely unaware of his sinful condition. He knows at his core that he is still lacking something because he feels his incompleteness. Jesus points us to his heart. 

What he needed, and what we need to be able to inherit eternal life must begin with our heart, and it is nothing we can do for ourselves. There is no number of good deeds that will give us the heart we need to have eternal life. We need a completely new heart, and that comes from accepting the invitation to follow Him and loving God with all our heart and soul and mind – above every other person or thing in our lives. He makes us a new creation with a new heart in Him. 

In Matthew 22, Jesus was talking with some pharisees, and they asked Him what the greatest commandment is: And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22: 37-40

Jesus said this is the first and greatest commandment because He wanted the pharisees, as well as us, to know that everything else rests on this commandment. If we love Him, we will obey Him. If we love Him, we will love others. If we love Him, He gets the first place in our lives, above everything else. This has to be lined up right in our hearts before we can start to obey any other commandments. If we cannot make Him first place, seated on the throne of our hearts, we are serving an idol somewhere in our lives. Whoever or whatever we put above Him, love more than Him, or will not sacrifice to follow Him, is an idol in our lives. 

This man believes he has kept the commandments and is completely unaware that he is sinful and has not kept any of the commands he thinks he has because in breaking the first, Love the Lord your God, he breaks all of them He cared more about his earthly possessions than he did about heavenly treasure and a relationship with God that would complete his need for everything. 

Following Jesus is not life picking something from the vending machine. We don’t pick and choose which commands we would like to follow or which ones we think we will do well with. We cannot follow any of the commands without the power of the Holy Spirit, and it is all or nothing. He requires us to be all in. There is no good in man, but we are made good only in Him. He completes every need we ever have and fulfills every longing, as the rich young ruler sadly did not discover that day. 

How about you? What is keeping you from following Jesus and making Him the Lord of your life today? 

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