Are You Good Enough?

Mark 10

17As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

26The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:17-27, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

This story in Mark 10 is also shared by Matthew in the 19th chapter of his account of the life of Jesus. I wrote about this story about a year ago here, in which I addressed the question of whether or not Jesus requires rich people to give up their possessions in order to be saved.

You can read my thoughts about that in the previous blog post as I’m not intending to regurgitate all my thoughts again here. Instead, I want to focus on an often overlooked part of the exchange Jesus has with this person of extreme wealth.

The passage starts with the man coming to Jesus and asking Jesus what is required to inherit eternal life. But what is often overlooked is how he addresses Jesus. He calls Jesus “good teacher”.

Jesus picks up on this and replies in verse 18, “Why do you call me good?….No one is good except God alone.”

You almost never hear any sermon that focuses on this verse or gives any explanation of why it’s there. In fact, if you just eliminated verse 18 from the story altogether, the main idea and explanation seems to remain unchanged. In other words. Jesus’ response to how the man addressed him does not appear to be central to the main point of the story, which is the idea that coming to Jesus and inheriting eternal life requires us to recognize our spiritual brokenness and our need for a savior.

So if Jesus’ response is not important to the main idea in the story, why is it there?

Jesus is using this exchange to fundamentally change our idea of what is considered good.

Think about it. Almost everyone everywhere thinks that making it to heaven is a matter of being a good person and I’ve never met a person who, no matter what bad things they may have done in their lives, didn’t consider themselves to be good. Jesus’s response alters the equation of what is required to gain eternal life, which is the central query of the rich young ruler.

Do you think you’re a good person? Jesus says that ONLY GOD is good. Jesus also indirectly points to his own deity in the process when he asks, “why do you call me good….no one is good except God.” Jesus is pressing the implication that calling him good is tantamount to calling him God, since only God is good.

The rest of the story is simply a process by which Jesus reveals to the rich young ruler that he does not measure up to the standard of goodness (perfection) that is required to gain eternal life.

The disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus responded that with man, it is impossible. Why? Because no man can achieve the perfect goodness required to save himself.

But all things are possible with God. Jesus makes the impossible possible through His death on the cross!

Reflection

What has been your concept of goodness in the past? What is the standard you use to determine whether a person is good or not?

Do you agree with people who say that most people are basically good? Why or why not?

Do you think it’s possible for people to save themselves?

What do you think is required to inherit eternal life? How would you explain it to someone else?

 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Endless Virtues of God’s Word

Psalm 119

1Happy are people of integrity, who follow the law of the LORD.

2Happy are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts.

3They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.

4You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.

5Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your principles!

6Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with your commands.

7When I learn your righteous laws, I will thank you by living as I should!

8I will obey your principles. Please don’t give up on me!

9How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word and following its rules.

10I have tried my best to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands.

11I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

12Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your principles.

13I have recited aloud all the laws you have given us.

14I have rejoiced in your decrees as much as in riches.

15I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.

16I will delight in your principles and not forget your word.

17Be good to your servant, that I may live and obey your word.

18Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your law.

19I am but a foreigner here on earth; I need the guidance of your commands. Don’t hide them from me!

20I am overwhelmed continually with a desire for your laws.
(Psalm 119:1-20, NLT)


The Daily DAVEotional

Psalm 119 has the distinction of not only being the longest of the 150 Psalms, but at 176 verses, it’s also the longest chapter in the entire Bible.

Though it’s not apparent in the English version, this psalm is actually an acrostic poem consisting of 22 stanzas, each of which begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Each stanza is 8 verses and the unifying theme throughout this psalm is the love for and the importance of God’s laws in our lives.

Though I’ve only included the first 20 verses in this post, just about every one of the 176 verses has a direct reference to God’s word, using terms like “commandments”, “decrees”, “principles”, “rules”, and “righteous word”.

Throughout the poem, the psalmist highlights the importance and the benefits of following God’s laws, including:

    • enabling us to live as we should (verse 7)
    • instructing us on how to remain pure (verse 9)
    • empowering us to avoid sin (verse 11)
    • daily guidance (verse 19)
    • source of wisdom and advice (verse 24)
    • revives us when we’re discouraged (verse 25)
    • encourages us in our grief (verse 28)
    • tempers greed and love for money (verse 36)
    • helps us know God as He is (verse 55)
    • source of comfort, peace, hope (multiple verses)

Of course, this list is not complete as the psalm repeatedly extols the virtues of God’s commands and our need to know them and follow them. The author’s view and love for God’s word can be summarized by verse 72, which says:

“Your law is more valuable to me than millions in gold and silver!”

This psalm highlights one of the most important truths of the Christian faith, which is that God’s word is central to those who want to know Him and follow Him. Not only is it the primary source of our knowledge about God, but it’s also the main avenue for understanding our fallen nature and the means for experiencing reconciliation with God and with others.

Reflection

How well do you know God’s word?

What has been your habit in terms of connecting with God regularly through His word?

If you wrote your own psalm extolling the virtues of God’s word in your own life, what would you say? What adjectives would you use to reflect your view of God’s word and its importance in your life? How long would your psalm be?

What steps can you take to develop your understanding of God’s commands and your knowledge of His word?

What obstacles or barriers keep you from regularly and consistently reading and studying God’s word?

 

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash