Why you do something is more important that what you are doing.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
What Are You Doing?
I heard a variation of this story from my brother pastor at St. Matthew the other day. He told it in a sermon.
A man came across three stonecutters who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. He could tell that the first one was not happy. He was chipping away but frequently looking at his watch in disgust. When asked what he was doing, the first stonecutter answered, rather tersely, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til its quittin’ time!”
The second stonecutter seemed a little more interested in his work. He, too, was hammering diligently. But when asked what he was doing, he answered, “Well, I’m cutting this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s hard and tedious work, but I’ll sure be glad when I’m done, and I can go home.”
“The third stonecutter was hammering at his block fervently, but he would frequently stop to stand back and look over his progress. He’d then chip off more small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was asked what he was doing he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I … am building a cathedral to the glory of God!”
These three men were all doing the same job. But only one of them was working for the kingdom of God!
Why Are You Doing It?
The “ruler” that comes to Jesus – as recorded in Luke 18 – was looking for an answer to the question of eternal life.
He wanted to know what he must do. Jesus’ reply was to first remind him of what God expects of us – keeping the Ten Commandments.
Rather arrogantly, the ruler says he’s done all that! And maybe it’s even true – as far as it goes. But when Jesus tells him to sell all that he has and give it to the poor, he reveals that it isn’t so much what we do that is important but why we are doing it!
Even the ruler understands that he’s lacking something. Yes, he’s “kept” the commandments (as much as any person can). But he still feels he’s missing something, something that is keeping him from eternal life.
Jesus knows what it is. It is his great wealth. The ruler has the “what” down pat. But his wealth is keeping him from understanding that it is the “why” – or the heart – that God is interested in.
The Only Good Work
The only good work is not really keeping the commandments, but rather it is having faith in the One who kept the commandments perfectly for us!
Wealth can often get in the way of having faith in Jesus. It seems to often be the case that as long as person has great wealth, he (or she) doesn’t feel the pressing need of a Savior. This certainly is not always the case. But Jesus narrows in on this in the case of the ruler.
Like the three stonecutters, anyone can do a work. But it is only a good work when it is done to the glory of God! When it is done as a response to the love God has for us in the person and work of his son, Jesus Christ.
And we need to get rid of the things in our lives that get in the way of responding to God’s love!
Heavenly Father remove from my life anything that hinders me from responding to your love. I want to give you glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2018 True Men Ministries