“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’
Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Mark 10:17-22 NIV)
I have a heart problem. I have had it since I was born, but I didn’t learn about it until 16 years ago. It seems my aortic valve was mis-formed and, over my lifetime, slowly became calcified. Although I have never had any symptoms, the cardiovascular surgeon my wife and I saw yesterday indicated my heart was much worse than it appears. An opening that should be approximately the size of a garden hose is closer to the circumference of a pencil. The danger, he advised, lies in the fact I am asymptomatic and less likely to be cautious in my physical activity. And he is right.
Since having my knee replaced three years ago, I have been working out three times a week, hiking mountains, and pushing myself because my bad knee had hampered my activities for so long. I have heard students say they think I am in as good or better shape than they are! But the reality is appearances have been deceiving. In fact, at this moment my health is in a precarious state, but by looking at me and observing me, you would never draw that conclusion. Only an internal examination revealed the truth.
And so it is with all of us spiritually. Our tendency is to believe we are fine as we are, but the reality is all of us have a heart problem. This is perfectly exemplified by the rich man who came to Jesus confident of his own righteousness. He was clearly unaware of his true condition. But just as my wife and I consider it God’s grace toward us that my true condition was revealed to us by the surgeon, so it is a loving act for the Lord to reveal our true spiritual condition, if we will only accept it.
Notice the rich man refused and we can only speculate as to his fate, but I don’t think he was the only one who felt sadness. I think, too, the Lord was sad. The Great Physician had the skills to heal his heart, but the man refused His help. I am sure my surgeon would have felt the same way if we had heard his advice and walked away unwilling to follow it.
I think this story reflects each of our stories, whether or not we consider ourselves rich. Like that man, we have a tendency to ignore our heart problem—our pride, our bent toward evil thoughts and deeds, and our rebellious nature. We think we are fine. The truth is, if we are willing and humble enough to listen, our spiritual condition is much more precarious than we think. Only when we are open to our Lord’s deep love for us can we truly be healed.
Today, seek out the Lord and ask Him to tell you the truth about your spiritual health. Is it as good as you think it is, or is there danger lurking beyond what you can now see? If it is the latter, it is better to know sooner than later and to allow Him to fix the problem. As with my pending surgery, it may be hard and painful, but it will be far better than the alternative of doing nothing and suffering the consequences.
© Jim Musser 2017