Daily Devotion - April 12, 2021 - The Attitude of the Expert in Law

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – April 12, 2021
Reading:
Mark 10:17-27
Weekly Theme: Attitudes about the Needs of Others
Today: The Attitude of the Expert in Law

For thirteen years, I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, and for most of that time, lived with 10 miles of our nation’s capital. I could see the Potomac River from my house (when all the leaves fell off the trees in the winter). It was so exciting to live in that area, at least initially. After the first few years, however, I noticed more and more that amidst all the tourist attractions there was a tremendous amount of poverty and homelessness. Yet, I never knew how to respond to those who appeared to be in need. My attitude towards the large number of people in need was one of feeling overwhelmed and stymied in how to respond. Sadly, I did nothing.

Today’s reading begins us on a journey this week through the gospel regarding various attitudes we can choose to have towards those who are in need. In today’s passage, a rich young man who knew the laws and commandments, asked the “good teacher”, Jesus, what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus first responds with humility by telling him not to call him “good” because no one is good--- except God and then, acknowledges that the young man is familiar with the law, naming a list of laws that most people in that day were able to uphold without too much trouble. The young man agrees perhaps with great pride and responds that he has kept the laws since he was a boy… and is maybe thinking, “Wow, that was easier than I thought”! The next statement is something that really stands out… Jesus looked at him and loved him. Then he told him what he “lacked”. For this young man, it was all about the various laws he needed to obey to please the master so that he would deserve eternal life. However, Jesus gives him a challenge which involves an act of sacrificial love when he tells him to go sell all his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Jesus. Then, he will have treasure in heaven. At this, the young man’s entire expression changed, and he walked away sadly. For this young man, the people in need were a topic of conversation but when challenged to respond with them in such a dramatic way, he knew he could not do that, and walked away.

Why would Jesus respond to the young rich man this way? How many of us today would sell our possessions to give to others in need and follow Jesus? What do the rich young leader and I have in common? As I sit here, I can think of some people who have given generously but can only remember one young, missionary couple who sold everything they had to go serve in another country for several years. Jesus responded this way to illustrate two points: (1) we can never earn eternal life by keeping laws; eternal life is made available through the grace of God and the mighty acts of Jesus through his death and resurrection, and (2) the greatest commandments to love God with all our heart and love our neighbor as ourselves, come only as an outpouring of that same love born from our relationship with Jesus Christ. We can keep all the laws and never earn eternal life if our heart is not changed by the Holy Spirit to love God and others. But “with God”, Jesus says, “all things are possible”. Meeting the needs of other people is not a check list requirement for eternal life, or one of the laws we need to keep so that we can have eternal life, but is rather an expression of our love for God and neighbor.

Dear God, we thank you for the teachings of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to love you and our neighbor and thus become more acutely aware of those in need around us and respond as your Holy Spirit leads and guides us, with love and compassion and to understand that it is only by your grace we are blessed with abundant, eternal life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 
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