Scripture: Matthew 19:16-22 (alternate reading: Luke 1:39-56)
16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21 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." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
Where can you find true peace, security, and happiness?
A young man who had the best the world could offer - wealth, position, and security - came to Jesus because he lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money and possessions could not buy him. The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for. He protested that he kept all the commandments - but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart. One thing kept him from giving himself wholeheartedly to God. While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had. He placed his hope and security in what he possessed. So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed.
What do you treasure the most?
Why did he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can possibly have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. See Jesus' parable about the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). Selling all that we have could mean many different things - our friends, our job, our style of life, what we do with our free time.
Possessiveness and fear robs us of joy and abundant life
Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outmatch God in generosity. God blesses us with innumerable spiritual goods - such as long-lasting peace, unspeakable joy, enduring love, abiding relationships and friendship that do not fade or fail - that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material possessions which fail to satisfy us beyond the present moment. God alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true and everlasting joy with Jesus?
"Lord Jesus, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart. No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from all discontentment, possessiveness, greed and selfishness, that I may have joy in knowing that you alone are my true Treasure and my Portion."
4 Remember me, O LORD, when you show favor
to your people;
34 They did not destroy the peoples, as the LORD commanded them,
35 they mingled with the nations and learned to do as they did.
36 They served their idols, which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons;
38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.
39 Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the harlot in their doings.
40 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against his people, and he abhorred his heritage;
43 Many times he delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity.
44 Nevertheless he regarded their distress, when he heard their cry.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Seek the life that endures, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"The Lord said to a certain young man, 'If you would enter life,
keep the commandments.' He did not say 'If you would have life'
but 'If you would enter life,' defining that life as eternal life.
Let us first consider then the love of this life. For this life is
loved, whatever its quality - and however troubled it is, however
wretched, people are afraid to end it. Hence we should see, we
should consider, how much eternal life is to be loved, when this
miserable life that must at some time be ended is so loved.
Consider, brothers, how much that life is to be loved when it is a
life you never end. You love this life, where you work so much,
run, are busy, pant. In this busy life the obligations can
scarcely be counted: sowing, plowing, working new land, sailing,
grinding, cooking, weaving. And after all this hard work your life
comes to an end. Look at what you suffer in this wretched life
that you so love. And do you think that you will always live and
never die? Temples, rocks, marbles, all reinforced by iron and
lead, still fall. And a person thinks that he will never die?
Learn therefore, brothers, to seek eternal life, when you will not
endure these things but will reign with God forever." (excerpt from Sermon 84,1)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible:
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from
the writings of the early church fathers can be
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