"Jesus answered, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
I always want to give the benefit of the doubt to people in Bible times that we so quickly dismiss and critique, like the rich man who came up to Jesus in Matthew 19. The rich man approached Jesus, just as we are also to approach Jesus (daily!). The rich man is seeking eternal life, just as we celebrate the promise of eternal life because Christ conquered death through his resurrection. The rich man has carefully followed the law, just as we ought to apply God's law to our hearts. He gets a lot of things right, and deserves some credit.
Perspective is where he falls short. He wants to have an eternal perspective on life, but he cannot sacrifice or see past the comfort and possessions of this world. Jesus tells the man that he will have treasure in heaven if sells his possessions and gives to the poor, and this made him sad. Shouldn't it have made him glad? Jesus answered his question and told him what he could do to inherit eternal life.
Obedience to the law the man could handle, but sacrificing worldly comfort here and now for treasure in heaven left him walking away sad. He wanted to see with an eternal perspective, but couldn't see past all that he had in the world. When does our perspective leave us falling short? Do we actually believe that sacrifice on earth brings us treasure in heaven? A lesson we continue to learn throughout life is how to see beyond what is in front of us towards the eternal perspective of God's kingdom.
Taking a cue from Jesus, what we give away now will benefit others now, and build up treasure in heaven. My theological imagination leads me to wonder if someday we'll catch a glimpse of how God used our sacrificial giving here for His eternal purposes.
- Pastor Steven with Alex DeWitt
Jesus calls us to give up the things we're tied to as we follow Him. What are the obstacles that stand in your way of following Jesus? Take a moment to reflect today and, if you can, give up that thing or that focus, just for today.
God of compassion, we confess that we do not always have eyes to see with an eternal perspective or hearts that pursue full obedience to you. Transform us, by your Holy Spirit, to love You and our neighbor in all that we say, think, and do. Amen.
In your journal or a blank sheet of paper, draw or write your thoughts.