The Examined Life (Matthew 16:26-27)

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

To the crowd, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of  greed; a  man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” 

To those inside His circle, Jesus issued the same challenge in a much more direct way, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Jesus wants both those who have said and would say yes to following Him to deeply consider the question of Lordship. 

He is saying that the Christ-follower must be mindful of who (or what) they are following. 

Communicating a “yes” to Jesus is critically necessary. But your true intention is betrayed by the revelation of who your lord really is, which is seen via your actions over time. After all, there are many who say yes but don’t really mean it. They claim Jesus for all the wrong reasons. Perhaps they wanted Jesus only out of peer pressure or momentary fascination. Perhaps they only want the benefit of Jesus without any of the responsibility. But what people really intend is lived out, not just verbalized. And living for the world is highly visible. 

Jesus alluded to the same thing in the illustration of the plant choked by weeds in the parable of the sower (Matt 13) and said as much when He declared, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” It is not what we say at one moment that determines our destiny, but the trajectory of our lives. 

That might seem a bit disconcerting to those who have already become Christian, because it raises the question of whether they are saved or not, even after they make their commitment to Christ. Yet one has only to ask if they are “in Christ” or not. If there is no evidence of that that God could see – no use of your time, talent and treasure to convict you of living for and in the Name of God – then are you really in Christ, or are you merely saying you would want to be? 

If there is evidence that God could see (even in a private prayer life), then you are in Christ and therefore you know you are saved. Paul understood this nuance when instructed Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 

It is perseverance in the Name that leads to salvation, because it is by being in the Name that we overcome all things, even death. Amen. 

Christian spirituality means living in the mature wholeness of the gospel. It means taking all the elements of your life—children, spouse, job, weather, possessions, relationships—and experiencing them as an act of faith. God wants all the material of our lives.

Eugene Peterson

APPLICATION: Intentionality

As Paul said, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”