Good things gone awry

Last Sunday afternoon we were talking about the rich young ruler in Mark 10.  We noticed that the man thought about what he could ‘do’ to be saved.  He asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life.”  I know that this is a grammatical nuance, but I pointed out then (and I am going to do it now too) that so many times this is what we do with God.  We make our relationship with Him about what we do rather than who we are in Him.  It becomes about activity and not about reality.  It is clear by what happens next with the young ruler that his problem was not in outwardly doing anything.  His problem was that his inward heart was not truly willing to let God be God in his life.  When Jesus gives him a real challenge, he buckles like a house of cards.  I hope that his was only a momentary lapse of faith, but the Scripture does not tell us his future.

As we talk about this I wonder how often we Christians do the same to God even today.  We take His Word about what we are to be and turn it into something that we are to do.  We create checklists that either excuse our behavior or convict our hearts depending on the situation and our own personal needs.  In other words, God tells us to forgive our brother and we make that a checklist to determine if God will hear our prayers.  Instead of understanding that God is talking about who we are (a forgiving person) we make it into a requirement (I’ve forgiven enough).  Is that what God is after?  I know that He cares if we sin, but is it His goal for our actions to be righteous?  Isn’t His goal for us to be righteous in our inmost heart? 

Another way to say it is this: how forgiving is forgiving enough? –or- How unforgiving is being unforgiving too much?  There aren’t answers, are there?  God’s point is that He wants us to be something (forgiving), not just do something.  This must be the goal of our heart as believers.  We want to be the person God wants us to be.  The doing then comes naturally.

Something to think about,

Pastor John

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