Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mark 10:17-22 commentary: giving it all away

17 ¶ And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

Psalm 38:20 They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.

If you follow Jesus Christ you will have plenty of enemies. God is the only entity, person, in the universe who is good. He is the judge of all good. Human beings alone couldn’t cut it. Because;

Psalm 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 53:3 Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Only God is holy and good.

1Samuel 2:2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

Psalm 145:8 The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

Jesus quotes the commandments that have to do with interpersonal relationships. He does not mention the commandments toward God. Defraud refers to coveting, wanting and taking or denying what belongs to someone else by treachery and deceit. See the use of defraud in Leviticus 19:13 as robbing your neighbor by keeping back his wages. 1 Corinthians 6 is about cheating a brother. 1 Corinthians 7 is about a husband and wife cheating each other out of their sexual responsibilities to each other.

20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

He took these rules seriously all his life. But, there are many people who are good, moral people who don’t really see the point of what Jesus has said. Paul told us Christians;

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

It is not enough as a Christian to simply not do certain things. Many, however, define their Christian life by not drinking, not cussing, not looking at the wrong woman, not taking things that don’t belong to them, but virtually any non-Christian religion teaches that or something like it. There is more to being a Christian than what you don’t do.

21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

Christ tells him to sell ALL of his possessions, give to the poor, and to join in with the apostles, following Christ. He didn’t call him a liar and He loved him. He knew he was sincere and Jesus knew the man’s weak spot.

We are told to work so we can give to those who have not.

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

Notice that the reason for laboring is not to build personal wealth so you can retire at 50 and live in a condo on the Gold Coast of Florida. It is to have for the purpose of giving to those who have not. This isn’t about government extortion in the form of higher taxes. This is you voluntarily giving of the money you’ve earned, that God has given you, to help feed, clothe, and support people who are actually, not willfully, poor.

I know an elderly person who thinks that the greatest good they can do is to enjoy their fine home and be an obedient, law-abiding, and taxpaying citizen. After all, isn’t it good that I can enjoy my stuff?

American Christians tend to hold onto their possessions. They cling to them like a child to his toys. I’ll do good but let me keep my stuff. However we are not to be defined by what we own but by our relationship with Christ.

When a man wanted Jesus to judge over he and his brother’s physical inheritance Jesus refused and gave them a little mini-sermon on covetousness.

Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

If your life is defined by what you own or if you define the importance of other’s lives by what they own you are a pathetic Christian.

We are told not to set our affections on material possessions, things on this earth.

Matthew 6:19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.[mammon is wealth, money, or the economic system personified]

From the end of World War II when all of our future competitors lay prostrate on the ground, America arose to be the dominant economic power in the world. Our middle class, forged by God’s bountiful hand of mercy, by hard work, ingenuity, and productivity, watered by government benefits in the form of the GI Bill for homecoming veterans of World War II and low interest home loans was the envy of the world.

For thirty years, from 1945 to 1975 we were on top of the world, literally, from an economic perspective. Even today, depending on whom you read our economy represents around 25% or more of the world’s total.

But, Americans began to view prosperity as a birthright to being an American. Americans began to regard each generation having a better life than the previous as their due. They weren’t grateful to God and, in fact, began to reject God and engage in self-worship on a grand scale. Bible reading and prayer were summarily tossed out of schools, the unborn were treated like so much diseased tissue to be surgically removed, and we bought and paid for murderous dictators around the world to do our bidding, denying their pitiful subjects the same rights we believed were God-given to us.

The super wealthy and Wall Street began preying on our consumer driven culture, moving production to poorer countries where they could exploit people with less of an expectation for a standard of living than we had come to desire. They manipulated government regulations and the tax system to create a benefit for themselves. All the while regular people who tried to start a business from scratch were facing tougher and tougher obstacles and needed more and more capital to get started.

Government continued the process of taking from the productive part of society, those people who worked and struggled, to give more and more to those who either could not produce or would not produce. More and more the richest and most powerful and the government took more and more of the produce of the sweat of the vast majority. Political parties targeted constituencies and tried to pay them off for votes with everyone else’s money as often as they were in power.

One day, a potent symbol of our financial power, the World Trade Centers in New York, were brought down. We did not get the message. Then, a few short years later our phony baloney economy collapsed. We continued to walk away from the one who created us.

In verses like Psalm 50:10 God says that all wealth and natural resources belong to Him. God says that all you have is His. So, maybe now He’s taking it back. America has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. See Daniel, chapter 5.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

What Christians have in America is almost always more important than Christ. Why was this man sad? Was he sad because he had so many possessions that giving them away would be a lot of work? Or was he sad because he loved his possessions more than he loved God?

Whatever a Christian cherishes more than Christ will keep him from following Christ.

No comments: