Text: Matthew 19:23-30
To see the closeness of God in your life
To rejoice in God’s righteousness
To be a blessing to your neighbors
THE YOUNG MAN’S QUESTION from yesterday hangs over this conversation. Recall how that went: a young man, morally upright, departs from Jesus sorrowfully because “he had many possessions.”
The disciples are thunderstruck at the implication. Their understanding, followed by all sorts of religious thinkers right down to this very moment is summarized as “the more moral I am, the more blessed I am.” Tending to money and wealth require a certain discipline, a certain set of habits: prudence, courage, thriftiness, and so forth—the kinds of things Ben Franklin is famous for noting. Such habits of head and heart are certainly not wrong, or bad, and the person of means is largely assumed to be adept at such things. Therefore, though none of them were rich, they are thinking in this way of moral behavior and conclude “if that guy, who clearly had his act together, is in trouble, then there is no chance for us!”
Here is where our Lutheran emphasis on the two kingdoms helps us understand our Lord’s point. We cultivate those virtues that make for a truly good life not for the sake of God, but for the sake of our neighbors. What need has God for our thrift, or our generosity? How can we pretend that we bring anything to God but what is already rightfully his, including our own lives? We find ourselves in that blessed realm not by our righteous habits or deeds, but by God’s gracious action; we “enter” his kingdom as children, with our hands reaching out. But our neighbors need our virtuous behavior—it is for their sake that we train ourselves to be trustworthy, kind, honorable, for the more moral we are, the more blessed they are.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks