Matt. 19:16 Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
The rich young man was probably pretty good at doing good deeds. He had the financial resources to do all kinds of things, but not to the point of being sacrificial. He was able to give out of his abundance, but he still had plenty for himself. Doing good deeds was not difficult for this person and Jesus knew his heart. Keeping the commandments and following the letter of the law had been possible but this had not come from a heart focused on God. That’s what was so difficult about what Jesus required of him. It wasn’t just good deeds, it was to have a good heart, one which was wholeheartedly devoted to following Jesus Christ. This, he was unable to do.
There are plenty of ways in which we can participate in good deeds. The proliferation of non-profit organizations probably is an indicator of the ways in which people like to do good things. It seems, however, that doing good deeds by many may be filling the same void which this wealthy young man had encountered in his life. He wanted to have eternal life and he somehow thought he could get there by doing good things. That seems to be where most people live these days — by doing good things they are good people. What’s lacking is any kind of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Our motivation for doing good deeds must come from a heart focused on love of Christ. Because of our love for Christ we are motivated to love others and to give of ourselves unselfishly. Good deeds alone are not enough.
LORD, please hep me to be driven by my love for you. Amen.
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