The Little Stuff, Isn’t Little

Our small group has been working through the book of Mark. It’s curious, because Mark relates incidents without a lot of explanation or background. If you don’t look carefully it can seem like a collection of isolated events.

In Mark 10, Jesus wanders around Judea with His disciples. He does a few miracles, heals some folks, and blesses the children. Just an ordinary month or so in the life of God’s Son, I guess.

Then He encounters a rich man who wants to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. You can read the entire exchange in Mark 10:17-31, but Jesus offers a difficult response: “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.”

There’s a lot to this story. Maybe we’ll talk more about it sometime. It’s definitely NOT another source of guilt, an eleventh commandment for every rich person (that’s nearly all of us) to sell everything and give to the poor. But that’s not where I want to focus.

In verse 21, immediately before Jesus’ statement to the rich young man, Mark writes:

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

I’ll bet most of us read right over that statement. It’s almost a throwaway line before the big conversation, the main point, of the story.

Except, it’s not. It IS the main point. If you miss it, the rest gets misunderstood. Jesus wasn’t commanding a punishment; He was offering, in love, an opportunity to trade up to something better. I’ll leave you to ponder that if you wish.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my thinking. Someone tells me their story, and I get really excited for them. I buy in, I want to see them move forward and succeed. I want to help…good thing so far, right?

But then a funny thing happens. I begin creating all kinds of expectations. I put the person on a pedestal because he’s got this great story and I see all the cool possibilities. In my mind, you’d think he’s about to do water-to-wine and leap semi-tall buildings in a single bound. Even worse, that’s what I expect.

Of course she can’t, and doesn’t even want to. Those were never part of her goals. But suddenly I’m disappointed because my nutty, self-created expectations weren’t met.

“Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Jesus saw the man’s heart, and loved him as he was, right where he was.

I need to learn from His example. I need to love the person without expectations or categories, without wondering how I can change or make him better.

When I truly listen to someone’s story, take the time to live with the dream and understand it, I might hear the heart behind it.

When someone tells me their story, they don’t need a Savior. That job’s filled.

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.

Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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