Rector's Column

When a Little is a Lot

October 11, 2015

A rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to receive eternal life. This is a good guy and Jesus knows it. He is living a good life.  He knows the commandments and has kept them.  He knows the basics.  Because he is such a fine young man, Jesus looks at him with love, and challenges him to go one step beyond the basics by selling all his possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor.  That day, he could not do it (Mark 10:17-27).  Because he was such a good young man, it is likely that eventually he did sell his possessions, probably item by item.

Like he did with the young man, Jesus challenges us to go a step further, whatever that may be for each of us, toward growing in our goodness and promoting the good of others.  At times we get stuck in negative thoughts about ourselves, thinking we could never measure up to the demands of Jesus.  Jesus invites us to act from our good selves.  We can get preoccupied with material wealth, ours or that of others.  Sometimes we can get so concerned with what we do or do not have outside of ourselves that we fail to see the wealth of goodness we have inside of ourselves.

The Christian life is not about having it all together.  It is about building on our goodness as God’s creations and moving forward step by step, trusting Jesus when he says nothing is impossible with God.  A house is not built beginning with the roof and building down. It is built starting with the foundation and working up. It is better to clean a house room by room instead of trying to clean the whole thing all at once. Somebody once said, “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little.  Do what you can.”

In our families, maybe we cannot make it all better, but we can make part of it better.  Perhaps we cannot forgive completely, but we can be inspired by someone else who can.  We cannot end all the wars in the world, but we can stop fueling the wars going on in our families, workplaces or neighborhoods. The rich young man could not give away everything so he did not give away anything.  Doing a little is better than doing nothing. Where in our lives have we not done anything because we could not do everything?