Text: Matthew 19:16-22 May 27, 2012.
1) A modern day answer: When someone asks, ¡°How are you?¡± it has become a common response to the question, ¡°I¡¯m good!¡± When we say this, we are really saying, ¡°I¡¯m well¡± or ¡°I¡¯m doing fine,¡± speaking of our general wellbeing and not our character. We have answered with this response more times than we can count without realizing that it isn¡¯t true. Because each time we answer, ¡°I¡¯m good,¡± we are saying something specific about us being ¡°good.¡±
2) An ancient day statement: ¡°And behold, one came and said unto him, ¡°Good Master, what good shall I do that I may have eternal life?¡± (Matt , KJV)That young man was right, Jesus is good in godly character and he is the Master of the universe and our lives. He is the only one who can truly make that claim, ¡°I¡¯m good!¡± Jesus challenged the young man to do what is truly good: to sell all his possessions and to follow him. ()
SAMPLES OF GOOD IN THE BIBLE: Too many to count.
1) God is the ultimate good: ¡°Why do you ask me what is good? There is only One who is good.¡± (Matt ) And the One is God, of course. God is more than good, He is perfect. The goodness of God is in his nature, and all of His deeds. It is because God is good, all that God did and does is also good in intend and result. The goodness of God is also the standard of all measures. Nothing is really good if it contradicts with the goodness of God.
2) Faith in God is very good: ¡°Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.¡± (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3) God sees faith in Him from His people as the best of all good, even credited it as righteousness, the only condition of salvation later in His Son, Jesus Christ. God treasures what is in our heart, our faith in Him and His Son, lot more than what we may do with our hands. Abraham didn¡¯t do much to God or for God, except a strong faith in God and His promise and that earned him to be counted as righteous. Thousands of years later, Paul in Ephesians 2:8 ¡°For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not from yourself, it is the gift of God.¡±
3) Love God and people is good: ¡°Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your sol and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest command-ment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as your-self.¡± Matt 22:37-39) With all the law in the Old Testament and all the teachings in the New Testament, love God and love man is the best of all good in our hearts and actions.
4) Love your soul is good: ¡°What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?¡± (Matt ) This is about a choice we all have to make, gain the world or save the soul. It is wise and very good to save your soul than gaining the whole world even if you could. What can anyone be benefited from gaining the world but loses his soul? Through history, too many people didn¡¯t know what is important and good to save their souls instead trying so hard to gain a little bit of the world.
IT¡¯S HARD TO BE GOOD:
1) It¡¯s not in our nature: ¡°I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.¡± (Romans 7:18) Since the Great Fall in Adam and Eve, our nature as human has inherited the depraved condition that prohibited us from having good in us. Paul laments on the wicked nature he has inherited which inhibited him from doing good because there is nothing good in him. Very early in human history, God had found out that nature in Genesis 6:5, ¡°The Lord saw how great man¡¯s wickedness on earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.¡±
2) It¡¯s not in human history: ¡°In this meaningless life of mine, I have seen both this: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness; and a wicked man living long in his wicked-ness.¡± (Ecc. 7:15) Again, in Ecc and Jer. 12:1, we read words lamented the fact that it is meaningless to be good or righteous because history proven that it didn¡¯t pay to be good people. Even in secular history, we read facts that the evil lived better life than the righteous and the righteous suffered more. I am not trying to be pessimistic or sarcastic, but history is full of facts that it doesn¡¯t serve any purpose to be good people.
3) It¡¯s not in our society: You don¡¯t have to look far away, just in the society where you live. Great majority of the rich, the powerful, the famous and the influential, politicians, officials, people make billions like financial crooks racking money by cheating and lying to small investors but pocketed hundreds of millions when they left a doomed company. Entertainers who live reckless life but become so rich and famous. There are very few examples to inspire us to be good or to do good.
4) Being good doesn¡¯t pay: In this world, ancient or present, it doesn¡¯t pay to be good in heart or in actions. Honest people, sincere people, people with good hearts are being cheated, ripped off, taken advantage of or conned in all ways humanly possible. The world has taught us to be on guard, be alert or indifferent when we deal with people. The dignity of trust or keeping of promises doesn¡¯t exist any more. Good people are being seen as naive, dumb or plain stupid. The whole world, be it in politics, business, legal system or just on personal level, being honest, good-hearted, trusting and sincere, is against the tide and will be on the losing side. It doesn¡¯t pay to be good.
LESSONS FROM A LIVE EXAMPLE: (Matt -22)
1) Look on his good side:
a) He respected Jesus: ¡°And behold, one man came and said to Jesus.¡± (19:16a) On verse 22, we learn that this is a rich young man. For a rich young man to come to seek advice from Jesus on very important issue is a rare incident. Most rich men are too proud to seek advice from anyone on anything, particularly he is also a young man. How often have you seen young people respect anyone, particularly a religious teacher?
b) He cared about eternity: ¡°Good Master what good thing must I do to get eternal life.¡± (19:16b) When one is rich and young most likely he is too busy enjoying good life with all the glamour and excitement money and youth can afford. How often do we see people with wealth and youth care about their spiritual needs? The wealthy are used to buy everything they want with money. They may think eternal life may be just another item of things they can afford to buy when they need that. Very few young people care about eternal life for they are too young to worry about that.
c) He lived a decent life: ¡°All these I have kept,¡± the young man said. ¡°What do I still lack?¡± (19:20) It is a breath of fresh air to see someone rich and young and religious with a clean life background, cares so much if there is anything else he needs to do to gain access to eternal life. His desire to be good, to do good and to achieve the highest result of being good is highly admirable.
2) Look on his not-so-good side:
a) No good work is enough: ¡°What good thing must I do to get eternal life.¡± (19:16) All religions, except Christianity, and all cultural traditions, teach something like this: you must do good, enough good, to save yourself. This rich young man was not exception. That is why all religions created rules, creeds and requirements that believers must comply, obey, follow, to earn access of salvation of the soul. But that is exactly the opposite of the Bible on how to be save to have eternal life not by work of man but by faith in Jesus Christ. No one may get eternal life by working on his own whatever it may be.
b) No one can have it both ways: ¡°Jesus answered: 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.¡± (19:21) There is a choice this young man has to make: keep his possessions or get eternal life. He couldn¡¯t have both. It is not evil to be rich, but money is a distraction and a stumbling block to get access to eternal life. No one may love money and God at the same time. (Matt 6:24)
c) No cure of a grieving soul: ¡°When the young man heard this, he went away grieving because he had great wealth.¡± (19:22) ¡°Sad¡± in NIV is from luponmenos, in Greek, which means greatly sorrowful or grieving, much worse than just feeling sad. To keep great wealth at the expense of losing his soul is a sure cause to grieving and great sorrow.
1) How will you answer? Next time when someone asks you: ¡°How are you?¡± What will you answer? Before you answer: ¡°I¡¯m good¡±, please make sure you know what you are talking. You may want to answer, ¡°I¡¯m fine,¡± or ¡°I¡¯m doing well.¡± It is never easy or sure if we are good enough to justify the common answer. ¡°For we are God¡¯s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good work which God prepared in advance for us to do.¡± (Ephesians 2:10)
2) What will you choose? The story of this rich young man serves us many important lessons on material and spiritual matters. It is our choice if we care to choose the path of our life. The way we choose may affect our life in this world and the world to come. Be sure we make the right choice as God wants us to choose. Do not forfeit your soul in exchange of the things this world has to offer.