|Matthew 19:16-21 |
16 And, behold, someone came and said to him, "Good Master, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?"
17 And he said to him, "Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, and that is God; but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments."1
18 And he asked him, 'Which ones?' Jesus said, "You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. [Notice! Jesus did not say that you must keep all the commandments; He listed only those that make up the moral core of the Law, which is included in the law that is written on every man's heart, by which all men shall be judged by God, and which has never been annulled or canceled. From the Word of the Lord within: "You must have a devotion to the law that is on every man's heart; you must listen; and you must obey."]
19 Honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself."
20 And the young man said to him, "I have kept all these things from my youth up, what do I yet lack?"
21 Then Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor,2 and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me." [Notice! Jesus has told us that perfection is necessary to enter into the eternal life of God; and if we would be perfect to have eternal life, (which is the life of God), we must follow the moral commandments, (included in the law on every man's heart), give to the poor, and then follow Him. We follow Him by exposing ourselves to hear his commands and then obey them; we deny our will and submit to His commands — that is the cross all men must bear to the death of self, to perfection, to attain salvation, to attain eternal life.]
2 If you would be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor.
If you would be perfect. First, perfection is necessary to enter into the eternal life of God. In Mark and Luke, Jesus is quoted as saying: One thing you lack, go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor. Mark 10:21; he lacked something to enter into the eternal life of God, which requires perfection.
go and sell your possessions and give to the poor. Mark records: sell whatever you have. Luke records: Sell all you that you have. Does this mean you must sell everything you own and give the money away to the poor? Sell your house? Sell your car? Sell your tools? Sell your clothes? Sell your furniture? Sell your business? Sell your stocks in your 401-K? NO! Jesus was addressing a rich young man, who was very self-confident, full of pride and self-righteousness. He claimed he kept the commandments since his youth, including to love his neighbor as himself, which is impossible to completely obey without the changing power of God to rid yourself of your selfish human nature on the inward cross of self-denial, as the Spirit mortifies your selfish nature that serves your body. Had he truly loved his neighbor as himself, he would not have been sad about selling his possessions and giving to the poor. So Jesus knew exactly, and showed him, what still stood between himself and God — his possessions, which were many. As you seek the changing grace of God, you must come to God with no reservations in your life; we must forsake all to be his disciple, Luke 14:33. But to forsake or renounce does not mean sell them all. We must do two things in this regard:
a) We must be ready to give up anything that he asks. There must be nothing that we reserve as unable to part with. Those things that we must deny in order to progress, the Lord will tell us to get rid of them. But most things will just fade into lack of importance as we draw closer to God. From the Word of God within my heart: "Whatever God commands, whether it be dying on the cross, we obey; however financially strait, however it affects our reputation, however ruinous."
b) We must distribute liberally to the poor from our excess possessions and money. We still have to provide for our families and meet our obligations; the Lord wants us to continue to do that well. But what we have beyond our needs, we need to distribute to the poor, either directly or through charities that specifically assist the poor. We need to sell any possessions that we do not need and give the proceeds to the poor.
From the Word of the Lord within: "Practice random acts of kindness." Acts of kindness can be to our spouses, children, fellow workers in our occupation, neighbors, strangers — anyone in need of a little assistance. Notice the word random in the previous message. Random is the opposite of systematic, scheduled, continuous, periodic, etc. Why? So that you will not become so occupied with your efforts that you lose the necessary focus of seeking God with all you heart; and to sit, wait, watch, listen, and obey. Acts of kindness include giving to the poor; so with our excess we respond in secret with kindness to those in need that come in front of our face, and/or we can financially support charities; but we don't take up a cause that absorbs our time. Until you have seen Jesus appear in your heart to guide you and bring your salvation, ignore any messages you hear that order or encourage you to spend significant time away from waiting on Him.
We satisfy those randomly encountered needs only if we have excess funds to satisfy them; and if possible, we should restrain our own expenditures, so that we have excess funds available — in other words, we should always maintain savings so that we can respond randomly to those needs that we encounter randomly. Aside from being able to respond to randomly encountered needs of kindness, financial common sense is to also maintain savings to respond to periods of unemployment and unanticipated expenses necessary for our own lives; so we don't give away any of that necessary cushion of savings. Further, if we are a business owner, we also maintain significant savings so that our business can survive and/or adjust if there is a downturn in demand or some crisis that reduces our revenue; neither do we give away any of that necessary cushion of savings.
Finally, you must repeatedly be eager to know what stands in the way of your spiritual progress, eager for the Lord to show and tell you. He too is eager to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and how to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Tit 2:12
The records of the many purified, Kingdom-dwelling, Early Quaker men and women on this site, had houses, horses, carriages, farms, businesses, etc. They had clearly not sold everything they owned to become paupers; but they also liberally distributed to the poor and to those in need, particularly to fellow Christians, but to the general population too.