‘Do’ Versus ‘Is,’ Resolved by ‘With’

“As he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’  And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.”’  And he said to him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’  Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

“And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!’  And the disciples were amazed at his words… exceedingly astonished, and said to him, ‘Then who can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’” Mark 10:17-24,26-27

This man was as rich in earnestness as he was in wealth, eagerly running to Jesus, kneeling, hungering for assurance. Oh, he had carefully obeyed since he was young, but he knew something was missing, and that Jesus could solve his gnawing question. What else must he do? Jesus, in typical fashion, answers with a question that crosses and upends this seeker’s strategy- Good is not about doing, and only God is good. Where he concluded there was one thing more he must do, Jesus said you must undo– untether from this world’s processes and possessions.

What? Astonishing, and impossible! Exchange earthly wealth for heavenly? Those eyes of love and this hard demand pierced him to unease.

How is this great exchange ever transacted? Only with the Lord, only with supernatural intervention and supremacy. Only with, not do. The Lord bestows eternal riches- otherworldly spiritual blessings without measure- on all who lay aside self-effort to call on, depend on, surrender to, Him. All things are possible with God. (Romans 10:12-13; Ephesians 1:3)

It is only with God that worldly glitter fades, and inordinate affections change. Only with God will preferences of entertainment, choice of language, and emotional impulses be transformed. Only He can unclench the fist, sweep clear the vision, and ignite holy fire. Would we be so bold as to venture away from Do to With? Would we set our hearts and feet after who God is and longs to be for us? All things are possible with God.

What efforts am I expending for Christ that have been out of line with Him? Is there anything to which I cling that replaces pure devotion? To experience the richness of present eternal, abundant life, we cannot serve other gods, so a deliberate naming and putting away is necessary. Then our do is captured by Jesus’s is, and bound up with Him as we learn daily abiding. All things are possible with God. (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 6:24)

Lord, turn my disheartening at Your hard truths to heartened understanding, and faith, and courage. Swallow my impossibles with Your possibles, that Your name and fame be known.

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