Read Matthew 19:16-22
When I was a kid I hated cleaning my room. If I’m being honest I still hate cleaning my room, but as a grown up I am not allowed to admit that. Every Saturday my mom would post a list of chores on the refrigerator and “Clean your room” would always be out beside my name.
My problem was that I didn’t know what a clean room really meant. How “clean” does my room need to be? What if my clothes are picked up but crammed into my closet? Is that clan? Do I have to run the vacuum over the entire floor or just the parts that I use often? How clean is clean?
The thing was, I wanted to know the exact point I could stop cleaning and move on to fun things.
I hear this same sentiment in the interaction between Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler. The Rich Young Ruler (let’s call him Steve)… Steve asks, “Hey Jesus, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus responds with a question of His own, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
And here is where the bargaining starts. “Which ones?” Asks Steve.
So Jesus rattles off the list of commandments. It would be a list that everyone would already know… “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Steve responds, “All these I have kept.” … “What do I still lack?”
Do you heart it? “I have checked all of that off my list. What else do I need to do? How far do I really need to go? Am I good enough?”
So Jesus changes the discussion. “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.” Notice that the discussion had not been about what was needed to be perfect. But the more “Steve” had pressed the issue, the more Jesus called out his own hidden motives.
Steve was looking for a checklist. He wanted to know the bare minimum he had to do so he could be “In” with God and move on. Steve wanted to be able to say, “Ok, I’ve got this God stuff taken care of, now on to the fun stuff.”
Jesus doesn’t operate that way. Jesus wants everything.
“Jesus, which commandments do I need to follow?”
“All of them.”
“How good do I need to be, Jesus?”
Every time someone tries to pin Jesus down in the framework of a list of rules or requirements, he reshapes the discussion. We want to know how little we have to give, but Jesus wants to know how much we are willing to pay. We want to know what we have to do, yet Jesus always calls us to do more.
I am most convicted by Steve’s reaction. In the end, Jesus ask for too much, and Steve walks away. The scariest part is that Jesus doesn’t stop him. Jesus doesn’t run after him saying, “Oh no. I was really just testing you. You don’t have to give everything away. I accept you just as you are. Come back, Steve.” That doesn’t happen. The Rich Young Ruler (a.k.a. Steve) met the Son of God and walked away disappointed. He met Jesus face to face and as far as we know he wasn’t changed.
What about you and me? Is it possible we could ever walk away from Jesus disappointed? Is there a point in which Jesus could ask too much of us?
When we try to define the rules for a relationship with Jesus, we are basically drawing a line and telling Jesus this is as far as we will go. We are the ones trying to set the terms. Jesus will cross that line every time. He pushes us and invites us to a life without restrictions and limitations. The only catch is, it costs us everything.
- Where is the line for you?
- What boundaries have you set that might be limiting your relationship with Jesus?
Day 6 of 8 from the 2016 Mission Discovery Devotional