What Jesus Did! 'Want to be Perfect?' — Matthew 19:21-22

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all the things you own. Give the money to the poor people. If you do this, you will have a rich treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me!" But when the man heard this, he was very sad. The man was very rich {and wanted to keep his money}. So he left Jesus.
— Matthew 19:21-22 NLT
Illustration of Matthew 19:21-22 NLT — "If you want to be perfect, then go and sell all the things you own. Give the money to the poor people. If you do this, you will have a rich treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me!"

Key Thought

It's the "because" word that is most important here. Jesus moved past commands to the heart issue for the young man—he had great wealth and it was what separated him from total loyalty to God. To follow Jesus meant to leave everything behind for the work of the Kingdom, and the young man could not leave this behind. It is easy for us to be trivial with Jesus' demand. We can say, "Wealth was his God, or having many possessions was his problem, but that Jesus doesn't demand we all sell everything we have." This is both correct and dangerous. It is correct in that the observation is true. It is dangerous, because the same barrier holds many of us back from Jesus. Many of us are affluent by world standards, but middle class by our affluent cultures standards. Let's not remove the demand of Jesus too quickly from our hearts. Let's let it linger long enough to see if we would react differently than the young man. Let's be honest about the grip that possessions, wealth, convenience, and power have on us. There was no joy for the rich young man in his decision to keep what he had acquired. There was only sadness: sadness that he had found the Kingdom, but wouldn't pay the price, and sadness that he rejected the Kingdom to keep what he valued most. The real question for me is what do I value most? Do we choose to hold on to it or to follow Jesus?

Today's Prayer

Holy God, I let so many things distract me from an undiluted devotion to you. I don't want to live that way. I want every breath I breathe to be spent serving and honoring you for your incredible sacrifice of Jesus to buy my salvation and to give me your grace. Please forgive my failures, sins, inconsistencies, mistakes, and lapses in passion. Please help empower me to live more fully to your praise. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Matthew 13:44-46
  • Matthew 5:20
  • Philippians 3:4-9

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.