The Difference Between What and Who

And behold, a 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.’ He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 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 19:16-22

Isn’t this our natural bent, to think we can earn God’s favor? In the flesh, we want to ‘do,’ and by doing so control our destiny, define our standing with God Almighty. We want to contribute to the ‘extravagant enough.’ Jesus puts this wrong thinking to naught by answering the inquisitive, prideful man’s question with another question, and turning his conclusions inside out. Eternal life is not based on a ‘what,’ but a ‘Who,’ and only when this rich man understands that giving up all he has amassed and held onto, yielding his methods to the Savior’s way of sacrifice, will he grasp the true cost of this gift of grace. Salvation is won by the Who of Jesus, not the what of man. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Church crosses, Fairplay, CO

Where am I placing too high a view of my works, my offering, before the Holy One? It is not that we are to neglect God’s commands, as Jesus says here, but the danger is when we think they notch us up a bit before Him, and when pride seeps in, before others too. A mind that comprehends all is of His grace, that the work of life is the work of the Cross, is one whose resulting actions are performed in humble gratitude, out of lavish thankfulness and adoration; the difference is obvious to the observing eye. When we go away sad, thinking we’ve been put down because we weren’t quite enough, or we smugly take credit for our generosity or time given on another’s behalf, either is a position of thinking too much of ourselves, and draws attention to me. But, when we are caught up in the Savior’s ultimate gift to us of Himself, every breath, every response, is a luxurious offering to Him; the focus and heartbeat of our lives is the great Redeemer. (Romans 12:3)

In the way I go about my days, the words I use, the conversations I entertain, am I lifting high myself, or Jesus? Will I surrender my whats into the nail-scarred hands of my glorified Who?

“Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name. ~George William Kitchin (1887)

Sufficient Savior, hide my works in Thee. May my living be a reflection of Your life and death for me, to the praise of Your great name and grace.

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