Read: Matthew 19:16-22 |
Hymn writer Frances Havergal who was born in England in 1836 is best known for her hymns “Take My Life and Let It Be” and “I Am Trusting Thee”.
In 1858, during a trip to Germany, she saw the Domenico Feti painting – “Behold the man” for the first time. As you may recall, in my initial post on this topic (link), Count Zinzendorf was so moved by the painting in the late 1700’s that he established the Moravian missionaries, which in turn sparked the modern missionary movement.
As Frances paused and reflected on the same painting nearly a century later, she also meditated upon the inscription below the painting – “This have I suffered for you, now what will you do for me?” Inspired, she grabbed a piece of scrap paper and scribbled a few verses of what became, “I Gave My Life For Thee”.
When she returned home, she was not satisfied with the verses and impulsively tried to toss them into the furnace. Fortunately, she missed! Her father picked up the errant throw and after reading it, persuaded her to keep it. Over time, she found that others were very moved by the words and it was published in 1869 to a tune written by her father.
Given this backdrop and theme from the painting, let us revisit these verses with this in mind.
Now, what will you do for me?
Jesus was approached by a rich young man asking “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Apparently, this young man knew about Jesus’ ministry. He had studied the scripture and knew the commandments. As Jesus examined his heart, He discerned what was lacking in the ruler’s life.
In my mind, Jesus decided to help the rich young ruler to understand the difference between spiritual IQ and spiritual commitment. Jesus started by checking his spiritual IQ. He told him to keep the commandments and when prompted, Jesus named the ones involved our relationships with others. The rich young ruler noted that he kept each of these. It appeared that his spiritual IQ was in good shape.
At this point, Jesus decided to challenge him with a heart check-up to measure his spiritual commitment. A viable translation of Jesus question in verse 21 might be knowing all that you know, what will you do for me? Are you willing to sell your possessions, give it to the poor and come and follow me?
This challenge rocked his world. In the rich young ruler’s heart of hearts, his spiritual IQ could not convince his carnal IQ that he should let go of his comfort and possessions in order to give himself completely to God.
In retrospect, each of us have the same challenge. Thank God that the early apostles and disciples answered the call. Thank God that Count Zinzendorf and Frances Havergal answered the call. Thank God that we have the free will to decide whether or not we are willing to let go and let God? Can we trust Him to provide for us if we give of our time, talent and treasure?
Jesus does not ask us to take a vow of poverty to serve Him. At the same time, our determination to “be rich” should never exceed our determination to serve Him. [1 Timothy 6:9; Ecclesiastes 11:6]
As we seek Him, He grants us the wisdom to discern what is pure and best. [Philippians 1:10] We should add to our spiritual IQ by studying his Word and increasing our spiritual commitment. At the same time, we need to apply our spiritual knowledge in ways that glorify God. By putting spiritual values first, we are enriching ourselves spiritually and thereby adding to our heavenly bank account.
1. Discover –
points out the paradox of the Rich and the Kingdom of God. In verse 23, we find –Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” This astonished the disciples. Why?
2. Develop –
A. Does your spiritual IQ – what you know about God, match with your spiritual commitment – what you do for God? If it does match, how did you overcome the urge “not to” step up. If it does not match, what keeps you from applying what you know?
3. Demonstrate –
A. Does your walk and talk exhibit a believer who is just as determined to be successful and “well-off” on your job, as you are determined to serve Him as a Christian? If not, what is the gap?