Archive for June, 2017
“And He said to him, ‘Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good…’” (Matthew 19:17).
While quick to describe any number of individuals, things, or activities as good, Jesus’ words force us to rethink and reserve such estimations for the One who alone is good. Regarding the rich young ruler’s question of eternal life, the Goodness that produces salvation lies outside of us and does not emerge from within. The necessary starting place for discovering this life is the acknowledgement, “I have no good besides You” (Psalm 16:2).
“And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16)
While no better question could be asked, his grammar reveals a common misconception—that salvation and eternal life is something of his doing. The verb “obtain” reflects the attitude that salvation is just something else to be acquired and added to the pile of “things” we accumulate in life. That his confidence is in his own capacity, and that he views himself as the subject of salvation, is evident in the twice used personal pronoun “I.” His misguided thinking is everyone has a price…maybe even God. The Good News is that the price has been paid.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
Unlike the meaningless participation trophies awarded to children today for just showing up, the crown of life is the highest recognition for the people of God, rewarding their faithful perseverance through times of trial and unwavering love for the Lord. In fact, this love is the catalyst for those who endure. It is a perspective towards life that looks past the circumstances of moment and envisions providential purposes yet to be seen.
“and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:10).
Wealth is relative. For anyone within the U.S., the moment you step foot into a third world country, you are, by any standard of measure, rich. The danger of wealth is that it breeds arrogance, an air of superiority, an advantage deserving of special treatment. Yet, even for the affluent and the privileged, this humbling statistic remains the same—one out of one will die.
“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position” (James 1:9).
Instead of offering sympathy and pity regarding their plight, James, instead, acknowledges the advantageous position of the poor in the providential purposes of God. While the up and in tend to arrogantly look down on others, those humbled and beaten down by life are the most likely to look upward and faithfully cling to trust, hope, and the provision of God. It’s a good reminder that if we are not intentionally humbling ourselves, life certainly will.
“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life’” (John 6:68).
While moral and ethical codes can be found within the tenets of every world religion, the hope that any of these faith expressions might have offered were buried with the death of their founder. The uniqueness of the Christian faith is to be found in the resurrection of Jesus. It is Jesus alone, standing victorious over the grave, who holds eternal truth in his hand.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35)
The faith we have received isn’t only to be held and lived out, but it must also be spoken of and shared. To only live our faith and never speak of it says too much about us and too little about the gospel.