DO I JUST HAVE TO BE GOOD?

Little Ashley sat quietly in our Sunday School class for first graders.  Everyone was working on coloring a craft that would lead them to the heart of the lesson.  It was not normal for Ashley to be this quiet, so I asked her what she was thinking.  She looked up and seriously asked, “Do I just have to be good to get to heaven?”  I was a bit surprised by the question but I could feel that she was seeking an honest, clear answer.  The Holy Spirit told me to answer with the truth of our salvation that morning and let the rest of the lesson be put aside for now. 

I prayerfully shared with Ashley how it’s not as much about being good as it is about believing in Jesus and what He did to save us from doing bad.  When we say yes, I believe and forgive me, Jesus helps us with our desires to do what He says every day.  This all begins with really believing who Jesus is and believing what He did to save us.  A relationship then begins with Him that is even more loving than the relationship you have with mom and dad!  Hard to imagine, right?  Jesus loves us and He wants all that is good and right for us.

There is more to that story, but you get the picture.  Ashley accepted Jesus that morning along with another friend at the table.  The friend proclaimed with a smile, “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time!”  I smiled thinking about what a “long time” means to six-year-olds.  I’m smiling even now remembering this beautiful moment.

Some will argue that six-year-olds may not know what they are doing, but I witnessed a transformation in both of these girls that day and in the coming days.  It all began with the question that is similar to the rich man’s question in our passage today, “Do I just have to be good to get to heaven?”  Jesus told us in yesterday’s passage, “let the children come to me” with their childlike faith, trusting fully in Him.  We can learn a lot in transforming from childish to childlike faith.

Matthew—God’s Law Fulfilled

Matthew 19:16-30, NLT

The Rich Man

16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”

17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

18 “Which ones?” the man asked.

And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”

21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

WHAT DO WE LEARN?

It’s not as much what I do, but who I’m following.  Jesus wants all of me, not just the good parts, but all of me. Rich, poor or in-between according to this world’s standards makes no difference.  We must give all to Him in exchange for all He has for us, letting nothing get between our Lord and Savior and us.  Give up the world and follow Jesus.  There are no regrets.

THE REST OF THE STORY

It would be discovered a few months later that Ashley had an aggressive tumor of cancer in her small leg leading to the amputation of that leg.  Although Ashley’s mom and dad were devastated, Ashley took it all in stride because she knew Jesus was with her through it all.  What a witness she was to all the doctors and nurses who cared for her.  She was also encouraging to all her roommates at the hospital who would come and go through chemo treatments.  God gave her miraculous strength and tremendous resilience because she believed in Jesus.  Ashley survived all and became a beautiful young woman.  Come as a child…says Jesus.

I’m reminded of the song of our childhoods, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”.  Remember?  I will be singing that all day long today!

I have decided to follow Jesus,

I have decided to follow Jesus,

I have decided to follow Jesus,

No turning back, no turning back.

Abba, Lord and Savior,

Yes, there is no turning back for me!  To give all I have back to you in return for all of You living in me, guiding me, keeping me out of trouble, protecting me, providing for me, making a way through the storms while being with me is a no brainer. Thank you for saving my soul, making me whole and not leaving me to my own devices but challenging me each day to grow closer to You and to others with a love that is so deep I will never reach the bottom of it all. 

You are my shepherd.  You are all I need.

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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