_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Pastor Dale Lloyd
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19: 16 – 26
Whenever this story is referenced there are a certain number of people whose thought is: ‘Oh, Oh, the preacher is after our wallets again.’ I can tell you this preacher is not. Further, I can tell you God isn’t either. If your interpretation of this tragic story begins and ends with money then you have missed the point entirely.
God is only after one thing this morning and it does not change from person to person, it is the same for all people – God is after your heart. If He truly has our heart He has everything that makes us up and makes up our world. We hardly dare to believe it, but the counsel of Augustine was absolutely correct: “Love God with all your heart and do whatever you want to do.” The truth is when we love God with our whole heart the only thing we will want to do is to please Him and glorify Him in the earth.
This Matthew 19 story is a story about the heart.
The Question: “What good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” Not one of us in this room would have answered that question the way Christ did. In fact if this was anyone other than Christ we would have been highly critical of the answer. We would have told the man there’s not one thing he could do to inherit eternal life – especially after that message last week. And in the second place we would have never pointed him to the Law of Moses. But Christ did.
And this led to the second question: “Which ones?” Which commandments in particular? This was a fair question given the fact that in the first five books of the Bible there are 613 commands. You can appreciate how chaotic it was when it came to interpreting all those commands and even more chaotic when it came to living them.
For instance, what do you do when your donkey falls into a hole on the Sabbath? To rescue the donkey would require work, which would be a violation of the Sabbath. And yet there were commands to protect and preserve life, including the life of donkeys. So what happens when obeying one commandment requires the breaking of another commandment?
In answering this second question Christ pointed this man to the Law of Moses – the Ten Commandments. But here again the answer Christ gave is strange.
The first four of those commandments deal with our relationship with God. The following six deal with our relationships with each other. Christ did not point him to the commandments dealing with relationship with God. He pointed him to those that dealt with his relationship with people. And notice He referenced the first five of those commandments but left out the last one. It really does appear that Christ missed an opportunity at evangelism. But He didn’t.
This led to a third question on the part of the young man: “...what am I still lacking?” This was the question that set the stage for this young man to enter into the opportunity of a lifetime. This opened the door into the journey of a lifetime – a truly fantastic journey into infinite fullness not only in this age and life but also in the age and life to come. All that was required was this young man’s heart. Not his money, just his heart.
Notice that Christ did not refer to a specific commandment this time not even the tenth one – ‘You shall not covet...’ He brings this man beyond words chiselled in stone – beyond dried ink on parchment. He brings him face to face with a very particular detail of his world. That detail was materialism. In touching that detail of his world Christ touched the heart of the man.Why –because his heart was right there in that detail of his world.
Jesus told us, “...where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Find your treasure and you will find your heart. But we all know this is not as easy as it sounds. We are often in denial about our true treasure. We confess that our treasure is one thing while our lifestyle indicates it is something else entirely.
God wants to bring us to the real truth concerning our treasure and our heart. He does this exactly the way Christ did it with this young man. He touches the treasure, and how we react to that touch reveals the truth of our heart. And again, He’s not after the treasure, He’s after the heart.
God is far more concerned about changing the world of my heart than He is about changing the details of my world. In fact He is using those details to bring me face to face with my heart.
In this Matthew 19 story we must never say that the issue was this man’s materialism. The issue was a heart issue, and that heart issue was and is addressed in the tenth commandment – ‘You shall not covet.’ Coveting has nothing to do with how much or how little you have. It has to do with an attitude of heart toward everything I don’t have regardless of what I do have. Coveting is the soul disease of always wanting more, and it’s rooted in a profound dissatisfaction with the life God has given us. The heart that covets will never be at peace and will never know true contentment.
Why would I covet someone else’s life over the life this Sovereign, Almighty God prepared for me and calls me to participate in each and every day? I can tell you why. It’s because we struggle to fully trust Him, and this lack of trust is a heart issue.
What is it that has your heart this morning? Christ is not after the “it” that has your heart; He’s after your heart. And once He has your heart the “it” will no longer be an issue. It is amazing how quickly the details (the “it-s”) in our world change once our hearts have been changed.
This incredibly moving conversation between Christ and this young man ends with a three word, uncluttered invitation, “Come, follow Me.” This was the critical point – it is always the critical point. With the invitation there came new hope, new possibility, a whole new exciting world of adventure and fullness. But it also came with a very real judgement of where the man’s heart was. And where his heart was would be revealed in his response to the invitation.
Hear this, as I close, it was NOT riches that kept this young man from following Christ; it was his heart. It remains true to this very hour. Everything we do and everything we refuse to do is finally and ultimately a matter of the heart.
Let me tell you something about this faith community (KCF). God is building in this fellowship a corporate heart of Kingdom service; a heart that loves to serve, a heart that leaps at every opportunity to serve. As the Holy Spirit builds this heart in this house my own heart will be constantly challenged to find its place in what He is building. My heart will be revealed in how I respond to His invitation to follow Him in what He is building here.