“Do I just have to be good to get to heaven?” This six year old was cutting out a piece of her Sunday School craft when she stopped to ask me this question as her teacher and trusted friend. The question came in a quiet moment. The Holy Spirit prompted me to answer this question with real truth.
I responded to Ashley with “No, it’s not about being good enough, it’s about who you believe and follow.” Then I explained in six year old language, with God’s help, His plan to save us. In childlike faith, given what she knew, she said, “I believe.” This declaration was followed by, “I have been wanting Jesus to come into my heart for a long time.” I smiled at the “long time” for she was only six. But she meant what she said and prayed for Jesus to save her and live in her.
I am so glad I stopped to listen well, not only to Ashley but to the Holy Spirit leading me as her teacher. Please. do not question when God leads. A few months later, doctors would discover a rapidly advancing cancer in one of Ashley’s legs. She would lose that leg in aggressive efforts to rid her of cancer followed by chemo for months. Ashley amazed all who cared for her of her faith in Jesus and her endurance with a comical, positive attitude through this very trying time in her life and in the life of her parents.
I’m reminded of this when the young, rich man who thinks he has it all together, comes to Jesus for affirmation for how he has lived his life so far in “being good” but instead he receives an opportunity to walk with the King of kings by letting go of his world stuff. He can’t, so as far as we know, he left not really knowing and believing in Jesus. It is a empty life for the one who gains all the riches of this world for his own glory.
“Leave it all. Come, follow Me”. Jesus is still asking us today. This request along with this question must be pondered daily to stay focused on God’s best for us: Are we more concerned with being good or being saved by grace?
Being good is following God’s commandments, what is best is being one of His children by believing and following His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the WHY we obey God’s commandments and walk with Jesus in His ways with His love driving us. Because of HIS love for us, we love Him. Realizing the depth of His love for us, we love others like He loves us in the same measure.
The Rich and the Kingdom of God
16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
21 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.”
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Do I want to be first or do I want all of Jesus in me?
Do I want to be good or do I want God’s best?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You continue to teach your love, power, grace and mercy. You humble us with your truth. Thank you for your word, your people, and your Holy Spirit who guides us on this journey of continual learning and growing. Your best is what I desire.
In Jesus Name, Amen
That day Ashley turned to her friend in class and told her what she had just done. She then told me to tell her what I told her. Another was led to Christ because Ashley’s faith in Jesus. Today she is a grown woman. I need to contact her…
NOTE: There are a few possible explanations for what Jesus meant by his analogy using a camel. Some claim there existed somewhere in Jerusalem’s city wall a narrow gate known as the “eye of the needle.” The explanation is that such a small gate made it impossible for a fully loaded large animal to pass through it. The animal would have either to be fully unloaded or walk on its knees in order to traverse the opening.
There is no proof of this claim of a gate, but isn’t it interesting that the animal must unpack, leave the baggage and get on their knees to pass through. Mm.
Note also that in his comparison Jesus states it was “extremely difficult” (HBFV translation) or “hard” (NKJV, NIV, ASV, etc.), but not impossible, for a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom. “With God ALL things are possible.” –Jesus