March 26 – The Gospel of Matthew – Chapter 19

Read Matthew 19:1-30

When it comes to winning the favor of others, what bullet points are on your resume?

The resume of the man who came to Jesus in verse 16 of this chapter certainly had a number of impressive points. First of all, there was his age. He was a young guy (v. 22). Our culture today values youth and the energy that is so often associated with it. Secondly, he was moral (vv. 18-20) …at least in his own estimation and perhaps from the perspective of others. You wouldn’t find his picture hanging in the post office as “wanted.” Thirdly, he was wealthy (v. 22). Money certainly impresses. For many, riches are an indication of doing something right. In fact, even the disciples in Jesus’ day marveled at the thought that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. They, too, were apparently impressed by this man.

But this man, who was likely deemed a success among his contemporaries, walked away disappointed from his encounter with the Lord. Why is that?

While man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Maybe the man had never murdered, but murder was more than an action in that it included an attitude of the heart (Matt. 5:21-26). Perhaps he had never been intimate with another person who wasn’t his spouse, but adultery included glances and thoughts (Matt. 5:27-30). Omnisciently, Jesus understood that this man’s greatest point of vulnerability was found in his possessions and resources. These had become idols that he was unable to subordinate and surrender to God. Indeed, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure in a field, for which one sells everything to possess (Matt. 13:44).

In some ways, then, a person’s spiritual resume is measured less in terms of possessions and performances that might impress others. Instead, it is measured in terms of surrendering and following Jesus.

What is it that you are pursuing? Is it the applause of other people who might look at you and say, “He/she sure is successful!” Or is it the approval of heaven where no sacrifice is too great and no path for following Jesus is too difficult?

Steve Kern

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