Summary: However you may succeed in your endeavors, without Christ, there will still be a missing piece of your life.
Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life? Why do you ask me about what is good? Jesus replied. There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments. Which ones?, the man enquired. Jesus replied, ’Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ’love your neighbor as yourself.’ All these I have kept, the young man said. What do I still lack? Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me". When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Matthew 19:16-22.
When we were small kids we love to play jigsaw puzzles. It is cool playing them even now that we are grown-up adults (with childishness sometimes), so to speak, especially when the picture model attracts our interests. But when we can’t complete the picture model and are having real hard time finding for a piece or two, we get frustrated and irritated at times. That is true in our own lives, both in the material and spiritual realm. We all aim to reach a stage of life that we can call, "A Fulfilled Life!", don’t we? But, my friend, how much effort we exert and struggles we wrestle past, unless our fulfillment is grounded on the rock of our salvation, we still slide down into a misery hole - a place of lack.
The young man in our reading passage had all the earthly assets it would take for a person to be labeled, in human standard, "a fulfilled life". He was young, rich, famous and most probably respected and influential. If you are still young, healthy and energetic you would have a clear insight of what I wish to envisage. You will never forget your blooming years. But during those years we also trade all our strength, skills and even health to earn a fortune, and more likely, if coupled with hard work, earn what we yearn – to become rich and famous. During our sunset years we do otherwise. We trade all our fortune to earn our strength, skills and even health.
Life, in this world, is never complete and fulfilled. Freddie Aguilar got it right in his song, "Ang tao ay sadyang walang kasiyahan". But that is when your life and everything that you hold dear to your self are not attributed to the Rock of our salvation. Let us therefore examine our selves and see if there is any unturned stone in our lives that might be causing that empty space, that LACK, in our life!
First, check your Perception about Salvation. The rich young man asked, "What good thing must I do to get eternal life?" That’s where the missing piece lies. He thought eternal life is earned by hard works or good works. The apostle Paul explained clearly, "For by grace you have been saved (past tense) through faith – and this not from your selves, it is the gift of God; not by works so that no one can boast" Ephesians 2 : 8, 9. How many explanations have we learned to describe and define the grace of God? Language experts define it as an "unmerited favor". True. Some articulate and creative writers take GRACE as an acronym - God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Perfect. Others go further to describe grace as an act of God in giving us (sinners) what we did not deserve (eternal life), and not giving us (sinners) what we deserved (eternal death). Excellent. But there is a lot more about the grace of God, which no human wisdom and understanding can ever explain. To me, personally, it’s a thing from God that makes me exclaim, "WOW". But grace that is left to itself without receiving it remains just a "wow" thing – not a wonderful thing. It must be received by faith. The apostle Paul made it plain and simple, "through faith". The writers of the bible had discussed faith in different angles, but at the same substance. The apostle Paul clearly states that faith is "Personal". It is a channel where a man is connected with the Almighty God. In the sight of God, you do not need any good work to prove that you have faith in Him. But the apostle James discussed it in a different angle. He asserts that faith is "Practical". In the sight of men, you need good works to prove that you have faith in God. There must be evidences of good works to prove to the world that your faith is practically working in your life. Otherwise, it is not faith at all. So faith is confirmed by who your audience is. To prove it to God, you do not need good works because He knows your heart. To prove it to men, you need good works because they do no know your heart. Faith results to a genuine new life, not a new file.