A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. (Luke 18:18–23, NIV 1984).
My Musings – When I was young, there was a television show called “Get Smart,” which followed the exploits of a bungling spy. The show was a spoof of the genre popularized by the James Bond movies and television shows like “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” and “I Spy.” Somehow, the bungling spy (Maxwell Smart) got it right by the end of the episode. A famous line from the series when he messed up (which was often) was, “missed it by that much.” As he said it, he usually held his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart to illustrate the near miss. Unfortunately, “that much” was all it took to miss.
In the above text, the “certain ruler” only lacked “one thing.” And it stood in the way of him and eternal life. This was not one of Jesus’ parables, it was a real-life exchange. The disciples were incredulous, “who then can be saved?” Who indeed? Yet throughout the ages, many continue to believe if the good outweighs the bad, which is certainly much less than “one thing,” then eternal life is within reach. Or if they didn’t mess up on any “mortal sin” such as murder or adultery, they were good. Which of course dismisses Matthew 5:21-28 entirely, and still begs the question “who then can be saved?”
My Advice – The point is, miss it by “one thing” (“that much”), or miss it by a mile, it is still a miss. But despite our bungling, it can still work out by the end of our “episode” of life. Because, while “with man this is impossible, [it is] not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:27, NIV 1984). With God, you can “make it by that much.” My blog series “The Born Again Experience” can show you the way. You don’t have to walk away sad like the young ruler.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV 1984).