Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer
Mark 10:17-22 tells us about an encounter Jesus had with a rich leader. The man said he had followed all of the commandments. He then asked Jesus what he had to do to be saved. Jesus told the man to sell what he had, give it to the poor, and follow him. The man left grieving because of what this would cost him. Let’s consider which is important: Actions or Motives. Let’s also consider why this is important and what may be the biggest stumbling block to our understanding.
The rich man’s works were not enough for salvation even though he followed the law. He did the right thing, but did he do so because God was the most important part of his life? His great wealth seemed to be a stumbling block. Much was given to him, but he did not seem willing to give to God accordingly. One could infer from the scripture that this is why Jesus told him to get rid of his wealth. I believe Jesus looked at the man’s motives and not just his actions. Jesus judged the man’s heart, something we see God doing in the Old Testament as well.
Genesis tells us, “Abel, on his part also brought an offering, from the firstborn of his flock and from their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no regard.” Cain may have had a nice offering but was his motive acceptable to God? Hebrews 11:4 offers the answer as it reflects back to this Old Testament book. It says, “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain…” It wasn’t just his actions but that they were the result of his faith; they were a reflection of what was in his heart. The book of 1 Samuel is very clear about how God judges: God looks at our heart.
Earlier I mentioned that the rich ruler’s wealth was a stumbling block. Consider, Cain too had plenty but unlike the rich ruler, Cain’s wealth was not a stumbling block. He gave freely to God. Having a lot of stuff isn’t the problem. The rich leader’s property was his downfall because that’s where his heart was. I suggest that wealth of money, wealth of property even wealth of intelligence can be a stumbling block if you value it more than pleasing God. There sure are a lot of top scientists unwilling to accept faith as a gift as they reject anything they do not understand. In the same way some rich people lean on money to get what they want and are unwilling to accept some things cannot be bought, there are highly intelligent people who hold a similar position when it comes to leaning on their own understanding rather than trust in the Lord. Their heart, and their trust, lies with their wealth of knowledge. Anything we desire more than knowing and pleasing God can be our downfall.
To sum this all up, Grace is not something we can earn by doing the right things as the rich ruler seemed to think. It is not something we can buy. It is not something we achieve through our great intellect. Grace does not come from our ability or works. Saving grace is a gift. It is something that can be overlooked if we allow our ego to get in the way. It’s something we can reject if we are afraid to let go of anything that prevents us from accepting it. Those who feel their abundance wealth, intellect or status can earn salvation may think themselves worthy, but they are not. Isn’t this why some of the greatest will become the least and some of the least shall become the greatest?
What are your thoughts?