Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mark 10: 17-31 Giving is not Losing, but Gaining

KEY TEXT: Mark 10:20-22 And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

KEY THOT: The man ran up to Jesus because he wanted to know what he must do to gain eternal life. When asked about the Ten Commandments, the man said he had kept all the commandments from youth. And Mark tells us that “Jesus…loved him”. This man had zeal for the things of God. But yet Jesus saw he lacked something and told him to sell everything he had to give it to the poor and then follow Him. This man had everything—he was successful according to the world’s standards. He was rich and righteous according to the Law. If there be any more suitable candidate for church board and leadership, he would have been chosen. But Jesus noticed his whole life attitude is focused on getting—getting rich, getting right—and now getting eternal life. 

The thing that was lacking in this man is the attitude of giving, rather than getting. For him, eternal life is another possession he must get before he felt complete. But Jesus’ command to him to sell all he has to give to the poor runs contrary to his whole life philosophy. Jesus is not saying riches are wrong or that righteousness according to the Law is worthless. He is saying that he lacked the most important attribute of the kingdom—giving. The kingdom of this world is characterized by getting. But the kingdom of Christ is characterized by giving—and this young man didn’t have it.

The kingdom of God is not just about gaining riches, gaining righteousness or gaining eternal life. It’s more about giving—giving our time, money and energy to serve those who have lack. But giving in God’s kingdom is not losing, but gaining. Jesus declares: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).

If I want to live a kingdom lifestyle, my primary operational mode of life should be: “What must I GIVE to inherit eternal life?” This attitude of giving rather than getting or gaining should characterize not just my church life but also my family life, my working life and even my recreational life. I cannot be operating on the “getting mode” from Monday to Saturday and then suddenly switch to the "giving mode” on Sunday. If we are not operating on the giving mode on weekdays, we are unlikely to do so on weekends in the church. That's why there is so much church strifes: everyone wants their piece of the pie. 

But the kingdom is about giving, not getting—and this attitude should infect every area of our life: marriage, parenting, career and ministry.

Father, deliver us from the deception that getting is the way to gaining instead of giving as the way to gaining. Help us focus on what we must give to gain life in our home, work and church. Amen.

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