Commands of Christ: 65

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. 

An official asked him this question, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.  You know the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother.’”  And he replied, “All of these I have observed from my youth.”  When Jesus heard this he said to him, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich. Luke 18:18-23

Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”  He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness;  honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”  The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Luke 12:33

I find it interesting that every time I have heard anyone teach on the Luke 18 or Matthew 19 passages above, they are quick to point out that the Lord is asking that particular individual to do this, and it isn’t intended for others.  The Luke 12 passage above, however, is a general teaching given to His disciples.  It seems clear from that passage that Jesus is instructing us not to accumulate wealth but rather to be generous in giving our surplus to those in need.  This command comes with a promise of wealth in heaven in all three passages.  Our hearts are where our treasure is.  To say it differently, what we treasure is what we value.  If we value the principles and purposes of the Kingdom it will be reflected in how we use our lives and our resources.

Commands of Christ: 64

Do not fear.

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32

We have a faithful and gracious and omnipotent God who provides us eternal and abundant life.  What is there to fear?  Any suffering or deprivation or sorrow is temporary and transient.  Redemption and fulfillment and joy are our eternal destiny.  Therefore, Jesus commands us not to fear.  We are to keep our eyes fixed on the Kingdom of God rather than on this world.

Commands of Christ: 63

Beware of all greed.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”  Luke 12:15

Jesus illustrated this command by telling the parable of the Rich Fool.  Jesus made it clear that no matter how comfortable and pleasurable and easy you may be in this life, it will mean absolutely nothing if you are miserable and suffering for all eternity.  He made it clear that being rich toward God is quite different than being rich in this world.  In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says we cannot serve both God and wealth.  It is one or the other.  They are mutually exclusive as a goal or a motivator.  We will definitely be called upon many times to sacrifice our own comfort and pleasure in this life in order to serve the purposes of God.

Commands of Christ: 62

Be generous to the poor.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?  But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. Luke 11:39-41

This command is reminiscent of the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament.  God continually shows concern for the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, the disenfranchised.  He commands His people to care for them.  This is not to earn favor with God by our pious actions.  It is to honor Him and demonstrate our love for Him and others, displaying His character and His nature in our daily conduct and generosity and concern.

Commands of Christ: 61

Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”  Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:28-31

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”  He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together,  and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,  “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him,  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and the first commandment.  The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-40

According to Jesus, this command, know as the Great Commandment, summarizes God’s revealed will in the Old Testament.  That is an impressive statement.  Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17-20, that following Scripture is a serious issue which His followers should pay close attention to.  In its Old Testament context, this is the command which God’s people were commanded to be in constant awareness of.  They were to speak of this constantly in their conversations at home and outside.  They were to put reminders on their clothing and their doorposts to continually make them aware of it.  This was the defining characteristic of their lives in every activity at every time.  It needs to be the same for us today.

Commands of Christ: 60

Do not rejoice at power over demons, but over eternal life.

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.  However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Luke 10:19-20

This command was in the context of debriefing ministry with the 72.  When they returned from their ministry they were particularly impressed by the authority the Lord had given them over demons.  Jesus was commenting here that they were missing the point.  In the big picture, this authority was simply a nice side benefit.  The big picture was their relationship to God and their place in His Kingdom.  That was the news.  That was the impressive fact.  That was the point of their ministry, to bring others into an awareness of and participation in this relationship and identity.

Commands of Christ: 59

Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead.

“Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:22b

And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”  But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.  But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:59-60

The word “disciple” essentially means “follower”.  To follow Jesus means not following anything else.  He is the exclusive determinant of what we do, where, when, and how.  Jesus expounds on this idea in Luke 14:25-35.  In verse 26 of that chapter, He says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”  The point is that there is no comparison between the level of commitment we have for anything or anyone and our commitment to Christ.

Our overwhelming and overriding focus is on living as citizens of the Kingdom of God.  We are to follow our King at all times, in all places, without reservation or exception.  That is what Jesus commands.

Commands of Christ: 58

Come to Me and drink.

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.   John 7:37-39

This is reminiscent of Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria in John 4.  In verse 10 Jesus told her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  This is the sort of command which it is an obvious and immediate joy to obey.  We have thirst.  In this fallen world, there is so much unfulfilled desire, so much difficulty, so much heartache.  Jesus commands us to come to Him to find fulfillment.  He is the answer to the questions.  He is the provision for the need.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we receive the downpayment on eternal, redeemed, full life.  Come to Jesus.  Drink.

Commands of Christ: 57

Do not judge by appearances, but judge justly.

“Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.”  John 7:24

This command is given in the context of Jesus being rebuked by the religious leaders for healing a man on the Sabbath.  Jesus responds by admonishing them to live by God’s character, nature, purposes, ways, and desires rather than merely legalism.  This is a contrast between living according to Law versus living by the Spirit.

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7b)  When God told this to the prophet Samuel, there was a fairly dramatic illustration given.  The current king of Israel, Saul, was outwardly impressive, but proved to be immature and unfaithful.  When Samuel, according to God’s instruction, was choosing a new king from among the seven sons of Jesse, he was inclined to select the most impressive one.  God, however, saw deeper than that.  God chose the younger and less impressive David because of his heart, which was like God’s heart.

Let us press on to know God more fully and intimately in order that we may understand his character, nature, purposes, ways and desires.  Let us live according to the Spirit rather than according to the Law.

Commands of Christ: 56

Forgive 70 times 7 times.

Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

“Be on your guard!  If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.”  Luke 17:3-4

Jesus must have known this would be one of His commands that might be exceedingly difficult for us to obey.  He gave us some extra commentary on this issue.  In the Lord’s Prayer, he teaches us to pray for the Lord to forgive us as we forgive others.  He then makes sure we understand by adding, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  (Matthew 6:14-15)

Jesus also told a parable about an unforgiving servant which puts the matter quite clearly.  Anything we may be called upon to forgive in others pales in comparison with what God is willing to forgive in us.  Because of His infinite holiness, the “smallest” sin is infinitely unacceptable.  As recipients of His grace and mercy we are called upon to reflect that grace and mercy when others sin against us.

Realizing the magnitude of the forgiveness we have received from God is important because, “Whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  (Luke 7:47b)  The more we realize the magnitude of our sin against God, the more we love Him.  The more we love Him, the more we will forgive others who sin against us.