Bible In One Year-Day 75 (Sunday, March 16, 2014)
Commentary: Mark 10-12. Jesus used the heart of a little child to let us know the criteria for entering the kingdom. To see the kingdom is different from entering into it. To enter, we need the nature and the heart of a little child. The little child is innocent, no record of offenses in the heart and always believing. The little child trusts the parents, depends on them to meet the need, waits on their promises and loves them. The little child is easily forgiving and holds no bitterness against anyone. If two little ones fought, give them 5 minutes, they are back playing together again, completely forgotten the fight and the cause of the fight. And if the cause appears again, they manage it in such a way that they avoid any further fight. The greatest attribute to the heart of a little child which Jesus cherishes most is that they have no place of bitterness and malice in them;
1 Corinthians 14:20 “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men”.
Also we have a clue in Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:”; the state of the heart matters a lot when standing before God. Blessings are so immeasurable when one stands as a little child before God. The state of your heart determines your entry into God’s kingdom, rest, presence and favor. Imagine the rich man who asked Jesus what to do to enter into the kingdom of God, Mk10:17-19. Obviously, this man was comfortable and quite religious. To him, a good man is somebody who observes religious activities or the principles of the law, not minding the state of the heart; that was his definition of a good man. God relates with the heart and not religious activities. Being in the church or holding a position in the church isn’t a breakthrough before the Lord but a purged heart and a renewed spirit;
Psalms 51:10-11 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me”.
The position you hold in the church could be what is standing between you and God. Your aspiration for a position could be a path of distraction from the journey to the kingdom. For Jesus to say “no one is good” does not mean Jesus was saying He was not good Himself as many ponder over this issue. Jesus knew the state of the heart of this man and for Him to bring quality correction into the life of the man, He had to come to the man’s level of thinking. He first asked Him, “why do you call me good?” In order to address the error in the man’s concept, Jesus talked about the principles of the law, the Ten Commandment. To the man, his observation of these religious activities qualified him as a “GOOD CHRISTIAN” even though he had idolized his possession within his heart. Going by his response to Jesus, he was inconsiderate in his relationship with people. The poor may die, it never mattered to him. Anything done without God’s love towards others in your heart and the leading of the Spirit is to yourself and not to God; this is what Jesus meant by no one is good. Goodness comes only when the deed is in good faith and for God alone without you desiring any acceptance, encomium or expecting appraisal from men. When you get involved in the activities of the church in order to be known, it is an error. You don’t need a position to carry out any spiritual responsibility. Any position or opportunity offered you should be used with God’s love in your heart. If the love of God isn’t in your heart, there is no way you could use such opportunity judiciously. In essence, God’s love leads any action or religious activity that could be considered as “GOOD” before God; it may be considered good in the sight of men, but God’s approval is what matters and His approval is based on the motive behind the action you take. Man can give you position but God gives the power and grace. He gives you power to get done what He has given you to do. To be rich is not a sin or the problem, but according to Jesus in Mk10:24, “… trust in riches …”
In essence, there are two problems the man had; being good in the flesh (i.e. living by the principles of the law and not by yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit, His help and direction) and trust in riches. These two things still mark the life of a failing and falling Christian till today. Beloved, to enter the kingdom of heaven is not by works of righteousness but by the special grace. Grace, as we defined it before now, is the presence and leading of God, i.e. the Holy Spirit in our sinful body so that the righteousness of God could be evident. What are we saying? Our righteousness or self effort cannot by any means take us anywhere, only the righteousness of God which is the nature of the Holy Spirit, is able to take us into God’s kingdom. And whoever has the Holy Spirit is born of God;
1 John 5:18 “We know that whoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not”.
Also in 1 John 3:6 “Whoever abideth in him sinneth not: whoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him”.
The nature of God does not sin and this is what it means to be born again. Living by the principles of the law amounts to trusting in self righteousness rather than allowing the Remedy (Promise) of God that helps to fulfill the law to dwell in us, i.e. the Holy Spirit. Therefore, any good that comes from the flesh, like the one the rich man was talking about, is not accepted by God because the flesh profits nothing;
Romans 3:20-21 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”
John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak to you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Jesus is saying, in essence, that those who believe in the concept of that man in terms of being good are not good as far as God is concerned; and that “no one is good but One, that is God” means the goodness born of God. What is this goodness born of God? Jesus made us to know it in Mk10:21.
Mark 10:21 “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said to him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”
The man found it hard to do that, we are made to understand that the man was very sad at this word and he left the presence of Jesus sorrowfully. Whatever you find difficult to do away with for the word of God has become the god you trust, and it will only bring sadness and sorrow with time. It could be habit, position, material possessions, money, fame etc. You may pretend to be good to men, only God knows and weighs the heart;
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
The state of the heart of the widow in Mk12:41-44, justified her giving before the Lord. How good it will be for us to consider our ways like the Psalmist did and cry for help; Psalms 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”
A good Christian is not the one who receives revelations (because it could be warnings) but that Christian who nurtures and conserves his or her relationship with God in the heart and in love towards others to the glory of God. He is not the one with the gifts of the Spirit but that with the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit (LOVE) must lead any gift of the Spirit. For instance, if someone has the gift of healing but full of pride, such is just like the man we have just discussed. But if love leads you to use the gift without waiting for recognition, but leads the recipient to Christ Jesus, you are the one Jesus intended to bring out of that man. Take the pain to read 1 Corinthians 13. The “GOOD” in the flesh cannot last and always end in wounded heart. That which is to the glory of God will last and it is always done in cheerfulness of the heart. To see the kingdom of heaven is not the same as to enter; STRIVE TO ENTER!!! Our next reading is to round up the book of Mark, by reading Mk13-16. Keep the fire burning and alive.