In response to Jesus’ citation of various commandments from the Law,
The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Mt. 19:20–22).
The young man had so much promise, so much spiritual potential. Nevertheless, Jesus found his weak spot and exposed it—something that proved difficult for the young man but that was nonetheless necessary. Like this young man, we can fall into the trap of seeing our spiritual strengths while remaining blind to our spiritual weaknesses. This too we must confront and conquer in order to follow Jesus all the way.
Men have a tendency to expect that they have done all they need to do. Call it pride. Call it laziness. But regardless of the name, it is spiritually lethal. Like this young man, we are excited to report on all that we have done that matches God’s Word. But also like him, we can easily forget about what we have failed to do. The man asked an excellent question. Unfortunately, he had not prepared himself for Jesus’ answer. And today few of us do much better. We do not realize how much we hold out on God because we usually evaluate using earthly means. We judge our faithfulness and that of others by attendance, the avoidance of obvious breaches of morality, and a basic knowledge of the gospel.
Jesus sees these things too. But His judgment looks deep within each one of us to see the heart—and what the heart is holding back. While men tend to see how close they are to truth, Jesus sees the truth they still reject. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). The Lord considers not only that we are at worship but also why we are at worship and how we choose to worship. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). The Lord judges not only whether you are a loving family but also whether you are a spiritual family. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The Lord looks not only at what we do right, but also at the right that we refuse to do like the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37).
This is an excerpt from Kevin W. Rhodes’ new book, Follow Me: A Call to Authentic Discipleship available through “>Hopkins Publishing.