Summary: The First commandment calls us to trust in God, not in ourselves


Matthew 19:16-22

Avoiding Spiritual Arrogance

(Put up the picture of a set of scales)

This is how many people believe God should work.

It is all about the balance. Where do I sit on the scales?

And, generally, most people feel they are good enough for God.

“I'm a good husband and never abuse my wife”.

“I'm a good mother and always care for my children”.

“I work hard giving an honest day’s work”.

“I pay my taxes and give the government what they require”.

“I'm nice to the people around me”.

“I give money to the Salvos and other charities”.

Why wouldn't God be happy with me?

Of course God is going to be happy with you. After all that is His job.

God needs to accept me. Doesn’t He?

In fact when people are asked to think the ratio of those who have God’s favour, and those who don’t have God’s favour, the common consensus is that the ratio looks something like this.

But what has happened is that many have forgotten the first commandment.

You shall have no other gods before Me.

Exodus 20:3

The call here is to put God first, in everything.

Which is not as easy as it sounds.

10 “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.

12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

Roman 3:10-12

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

It is really hard to have no other gods before God when there is no-one who is righteous.

It is really hard to enter such a narrow gate.

In fact there are people who are fooling themselves into thinking that they are OK with God – when in reality they are not ok. We read about one such person in Matthew 19:16-22.

The man in this parable is a classic example of someone who thought that being saved was like balancing a pair of scales. He was sure that he was good enough to earn God’s applause. Now we don’t know too much about this man.

We don’t know what he does for work.

We don’t know his name.

We don’t where he lives.

Yet he does have some attributes which make us suspect that he just might be a good candidate for winning the applause of God. Let’s have a look at

The attributes which might help this man win the applause of God.

He is rich

In Jewish society riches where a sign of God’s favour to you, so this man must have something going for him. Verse 22 tells us he had great wealth. Italian leather shoes. A wardrobe of tailored suits. He has money invested to be comfortable in retirement. He carries an American Express gold card and he uses it frequently as he lives a first class life.

He is young

The youth are the ones who fulfil the fading dreams of the old, and this man is envied by many. Maybe in his 30’s, maybe younger. He pumps away fatigue at the gym. His belly is flat, his eyes are sharp. Energy is his trademark and death is an eternity away.

He is a man

In Jewish society men had the distinct advantage. Indeed there is a prayer which the Pharisees pray that says, “Lord I thank you I am not a woman or a tax-collector”. But he is not just a man … he is a man’s man. You don’t make it this far this quick in life if you are not. He knows what life is about. You got question – he’s got answers. You got dilemmas – he’s got solutions. He knows where he is going and he expects to be there tomorrow.

This is the candidate. The rich, young man who thinks he has got what it takes to impress all, including God. And then, to top it all off he goes and asks Jesus this question. What good thing must I do to get eternal life? … What must I do?

Can you see the problem?

It is the same problem that not-yet-believers are confronted with … and they don’t even know it.

It is the problem that many Christians are confronted with … and they might not even realise it.

It’s a problem that we might even face ourselves.

The name of the problem is spiritual arrogance.

What does spiritual arrogance look like?

We think our life is fine

… we OK with God.

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