Today’s reading is Matthew 19:1-20:34.
Okay, actually, this was last Friday’s reading. However, the weekend was pretty hectic for me. But right now I’m sitting in a hotel room by myself and have plenty of time to catch up. So, I figured I would read Friday’s and today’s. You get a double post today. Enjoy.
Matthew 19:25-26 struck me today and how much did I need it?
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
The disciples were astounded that the rich would have a hard time entering the kingdom. We need to keep in mind their background. As a nation subservient to Rome, they knew how someone entered the Roman kingdom. They were either born into it or they bought their way into it. For them, the obvious people entering God’s kingdom would be those who could buy their way in. But now they just heard the rich would have a hard time getting in. If the rich can’t get in, how could they possibly get in?
However, the part that astonishes me is that Jesus didn’t reply, “Oh, you guys don’t get it. You don’t enter the kingdom by money. You enter by righteousness.” He didn’t say, “You enter by humility.” He didn’t say, “You enter by your personal holiness.” Rather, His response was, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Did you catch that? He didn’t say, “Here you go guys, here is what you must do to enter the kingdom.” Rather He said, “Well, I mean, guys don’t you realize it is impossible for you to enter the kingdom. You don’t have what it takes. You can’t buy your way in. You can’t work your way in. You can’t sacrifice your way in. If you keep thinking of this as what great things you must do to enter the kingdom, you are going to be out of luck. The only way to get in is if God brings you in. It is impossible for you to save you. However, God can save you. God can bring you in.”
Let’s not miss how groundbreaking and earth shattering this is. We have a tendency to think we can enter the kingdom because of our greatness. If we try a bit harder, work a bit more, push ever farther, then when we die, we’ll warrant heaven. It just doesn’t work like that. We have to get this into our heads and our hearts, if we are relying on our strength, our work, our money, our effort, heaven is an impossibility. Heaven is only possible by the grace of God. If I go to heaven, it will not be because I am good enough. It will be because God is good enough.
Don’t misunderstand this. I’m not saying we sit on our thumbs and just hope we are one of the lucky chosen that God miraculously saves. Absolutely not. What I’m talking about is a mindset shift. Instead of working to enter the kingdom. Instead of thinking if we try just a little bit harder we’ll be good enough. We need to admit how powerless we are. We need to admit how impossible salvation is for us. Then, based on that, we need to surrender our lives over to God. We need to realize God can save us so we’ll just do whatever He says. We don’t obey God to try to be good enough to be saved. We obey God because God way works. His way is the way of salvation.
I recognize that on a visible level this means our lives may not look exceedingly different. Those who are trying to earn their way into heaven read their Bibles a lot, pray every day, “go to church,” talk to other folks about Jesus, avoid sins, etc. The problem for them is as they are relying on themselves to be good enough, they constantly are reminded of how short they fall. They just can’t make it. They can’t ever be that good. However, those who are surrendering to God will also read their Bibles a lot, pray every day, “go to church,” talk to other folks about Jesus, avoid sins, etc. However, their mindset is different. They aren’t doing these things to be good enough. Therefore, they don’t have a constant reminder that they fall short. They are doing these things because they know on their own they will fall short so they are just giving their lives over to God, following His way, knowing that as they progress in their surrender God will measure up through them.
Okay, I know I’ve rambled on long enough. I hope I’ve explained the two mindsets well. However, if you get nothing else out of this post, go back to Jesus’ statement. Salvation is impossible for us. Only God can save us, we can’t. So, let’s quit trying to be good enough to be saved. Instead, let’s surrender our lives to God and ask Him to save us by His mercy.
Keep the faith and keep reading,
P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?