A Meditation on Psalm 112 – Part 2
“A good man deals graciously and lends;…” Psalm 112:5
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus he said, What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
“Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17
Jesus answered him first with a question.
“So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.’ ” Mark 10:18
First, Jesus answered the rich young ruler with the question not to demonstrate clever speech or some feigned humility. He was not seeking to impress him with His wit or deflect the question for lack of a cogent answer.
He answered him in a way that challenged his faith that went to the heart of the matter. Did he consider Jesus to be just like one of the scribes and Pharisees, a teacher of the Law, human, fallible and no different from himself or did he really understand that he was addressing God himself and indeed He, Jesus, was The Good Teacher and The only One who could adequately and truthfully answer his question?
And that answer, though straightforward, clear and precise, left the rich young ruler sad and unfulfilled because it wasn’t the answer he expected to hear. Jesus loved this man and wanted only the best for him. But the rich young ruler was not really seeking the wisdom of the GOOD Teacher because he didn’t agree with the Good Teacher’s way, therefore, he went away sorrowful.
The good man is one who seeks the Good Teacher and follows His way. Jesus told the rich young ruler he only lacked one thing to have eternal life,
“You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,’ “Do not murder,’ “Do not steal,’ “Do not bear false witness,’ “Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” Mark 10:19-21
The rich young ruler, according to the law, was doing all that was required of him and his prosperity proved it. But he knew there was more and he wanted to be sure he had made all the right moves so that God would be required to bless him, having nothing to hold against him.
But wait, “You mean I’m missing something, still? What? What can it be? I thought sure you would pat me on the back and say, “You’re in. You’ve fulfilled everything the law required.” “Now you say, I lack something? What more must I do?”
So, here is Jesus facing the rich young ruler and He says to him,
“Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in the heaven; and come take up the cross and follow me.”
Did you see it?
Jesus didn’t tell the rich young ruler that the way to eternal life is through poverty. He didn’t tell him to go become poor. He said go your way… What was the way of the rich young ruler? It was the way of wealth acquisition and adherence to the Law. So go continue to acquire wealth, sell what you have. Do business, make wise deals, get a fair price for your goods and then take the profits and use them to be a blessing to the truly poor and in so doing you will gain the true riches, the riches of earth and the riches of heaven.
Jesus had both and He was the Good Teacher. He offered the same riches to the rich young man but he went away sorrowful for he had great possessions. In other words his possessions were holding him in bondage to this world so that despite all that he had he did not have the true riches or true faith in God that would have resulted in him having more riches than he could contain and he would have found eternal life.
What does it mean that he had great possessions, but that he was in bondage to his wealth? Because it was great and he faired well, in earthly comfort and privilege he was unwilling to risk the loss of the transient empty riches of earthly things that are perishing with the using, to gain the true riches of heaven wherein is the eternal life he claimed to seek.
A good man deals graciously and lends…
This is it. Good men (and women) are gracious and they lend, but not just in the way of extending credit, but rather more in the sense of lending financial aid and giving a hand, giving of themselves, their time, their energy, their encouragement and their resources. They are not stingy in their dealings. Good men under promise and over deliver. Good men, when asked to go one mile with a friend, will go two. Good men take pity on the poor and gives to them not expecting anything in return. Good men are more compassionate toward those in need than concern for themselves and how much more can they acquire.
For the psalmist a “good man” was like the rich young ruler in the keeping of the law but unlike him in that he cares for the poor without fear of what he might lose and he is confident in the God of the law that obedience to the spirit of the law, all the Law, was better than the acquisition and hoarding of wealth and riches promised in the law.