The opening verses of our Epistle reading today, (Ephesians 5: 1-2) says “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma” As children of the Living God, we are enjoined to imitate Christ in all things, to do as He did, to live as He lived.
In last week’s Food For Thought, the scripture explains to us, how we became God’s beloved children by adoption when we received Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. By that we enjoy both special relationship with God as our heavenly Father and lots of privileges as his adopted beloved children. This relationship comes with a responsibility and challenge to live and conduct our lives in the way and manner that befits who we are in God. There are things we must do and there are things we must not do.
Our Old Testament reading (The Ten Commandments) (Exodus 20: 1-17) is a summary of what we should do and what we should not do both unto God and unto our fellow human beings. The first part of these laws guides our relationship with God and the second part of it guides our relationship with our fellow human beings. The summary of all is that we should always put God first and love Him above all that we may have or possess and the second, like the first is that we should love our fellow human beings as ourselves. One attribute of Love is that it is never selfish, not self-centred, unreservedly generous.
The man in our Gospel reading today (Matthew 19: 16-26) claimed he had kept all commandments, but he failed in a simple test of Jesus asking him to be selfless with his possessions and put God first. The truth is that anything that comes first in our lives before God, or whatever we love more than God has become ‘a god’ to us. Such was the man’s case. Obviously he loved his possessions much more than God. That is not the mind of Christ. The man was not richer than Jesus himself who for our sake made himself an ordinary man, just for our salvation. I don’t think that there is anything any man or woman in life can value much more than the salvation of his or her soul. Jesus asked, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark 8:36-37).
Finally St. Paul exhorts us all, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others” (Philippians 2:4) If we want to be good imitators of Christ, St. Paul advises us further, “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2: 5-8).Christ’s generous love, His Humility, Obedience and Selflessness is a challenge and mirror for all of us as Christ’s followers.