June 18

Text: Matthew 19:17

And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." (NASB)

Jesus’ response to the questioner startles us.  First, the response seems out of character with the man who showed such compassion toward people without such impressive resumes.  Surely, Jesus would be impressed with a man with such obvious credentials who came to him instead of the Pharisees or Sadducees.  Second, by our definition, the man’s focus was on spiritual things, not on secular things.  He did come to ask about eternal life, not about how to extend his material holdings.

Really?  Things are not always as they initially appear.  As Jesus said, “What one sees, let him see.”  It takes courage to see the realities that Jesus sees and God reveals.

One of the things that prevent a person from seeing is flattery.  Most of us understand that truth well.  We all tend to exaggerate our significance because of other’s praise. 

Praise is a difficult occurrence!  The praise of others can powerfully encourage us or it can powerfully deceive us.  Two motives are involved—theirs and ours.

Are they trying to manipulate our behavior by what they say?  Are we trying to determine personal significance through the words of others?  Is it a matter of manipulation or appreciation?  Is it a matter of determining significance or encouragement to continue usefulness?

Obviously, Jesus’ concept of good and our concept of good are quite different.  To Jesus, it was a designation only befitting God.  To us, “good” is okay, but it is less than the best.  Note that Jesus was not flattered because he received a designation that only was God’s, nor was he deceived.

Jesus’ response to the man calls into question the man’s motives.  Was he seeking validation or information?  Jesus’ answer was simple: “Do what God said.”

Suggestion for reflection: What are your motives in your religious acts?  (Read Romans 5:1-11.)

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