unnecessary suffering (part one)

And behold a young man came up to Him saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
….
The young man said to Him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to Him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me.”
When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.


Matthew 19:16,17, 20-22


Many people have taken this passage to mean what it does not.

Some say that by obedience of the law, one is saved. Others, that by giving to the poor one is saved. Still others say it is a combination of both and then they tack Jesus on at the end, more like a foot note than anything else (from here came the Social Gospel movement).
But this is clearly not what Jesus was implying by this. This passage must be seen along side Ephesians 2:8,9; James 2:14-26; Matthew 16:24-26; and especially Matthew 13:44-46. I would encourage you to read them all before continuing in this post, as (for the sake of brevity) I have only included Matthew 13:44-46:

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Note which happened first in each parable- the man found the treasure, then he sacrificed all to buy the field. The man found the pearl, then he sold all to purchase it. How do we receive eternal life? Through Jesus and His work on the cross. But it is the outpouring of joy that accompanies this conversion that causes us to forsake all and follow Christ whole heartedly. (Matt. 16:24-26)

Through this following of Christ though, we get the promise of a family. Mark 10:28-31 tells us that because we have left homes, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters for the sake of Christ and His Gospel, we have received a hundredfold in this life. This is not prosperity Gospel where we command you to give to the Church and you will get a new car, but it is really in reference to the Church, and the fact that a) we have been saved by Christ, b) we must now be following Him completely which means we must c) give up (or place Christ above) all else, and d) will receive or social needs in the Church family, and our physical needs through Christ’s provision.

What is to be remembered here is that it is Christ’s love for us that should motivate our suffering and giving to others. Otherwise, we are trying to purchase our salvation, which never works.

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