The Way

If thou wouldst be perfect.


— St. Matthew 19:21

Checked thus, the youth turns to the question which, working in his heart, had brought him running, and made him kneel: what good thing shall he do that he may have eternal life? He thought to gain his objective by a doing, when the very thing desired was a being: he would have that as a possession which must possess him. But the Lord cared neither for isolated truth nor for orphaned deed. It was truth in the inward parts, it was the good heart, the mother of good deeds, he cherished. It was good men he cared about, not notions of good things, or even good actions, save as the outcome of life, of love and will in the soul taking shape and coming forth. He would die to make men good and true. His whole heart would respond to the cry of sad publican or despairing Pharisee, “How am I to be good?’

When the Lord says, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good?’ we must not put emphasis on the me: he was the proper person to ask, only the question was not the right one. The good thing was a small matter; the good Being was all in all. ‘Why ask me about the good thing? There is one living good, in whom the good thing, and all good, is alive. Ask me rather about the good person, the good being—the origin of all good. It is not with this or that good thing we have to do, but with that power whence comes our power even to speak the word good. To know God is to be good. It is not to make us do all things right he cares, but to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Commentary

by Leah Bond

Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God.
’Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers. 
— - Isaiah 58:2-3

Interesting that the young man had already achieved worldly success along with, what he believed was a high level of spiritual success. His coming was part of great display to the world of "running" and "kneeling"  before Christ, to the one man (beside himself) that he was farthest from knowing. The only One who could speak the words that would pierce through his well-crafted reputation to expose the rich young man's true agenda.

He ran to Christ to find approval for his life of accomplishments, righteous religious record included, but Christ met him at the crossroads and presented him with a choice, to follow Him into fellowship with the broken, humbled, powerless poor and weak.

Even though the young man went away sad, he at least knew then that his true state of Being, was away from Christ and away from the goodness of God.

"Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'   

- Isaiah 58:6-9

When going through recent trials, I asked God how I can possibly believe my suffering would be a testimony to His goodness, how I could be good, even live life through the suffering in any way glorifying Him. God led me to Isaiah 58 on true and false fasting.

As a lifelong religious person I had begun to feel my suffering, the pain of want, and then run to Christ with my record on display and expect him to give me a reprieve. I was missing the incredible rich spiritual life on offer through the fast God seeks.

His path is the only one which leads to life.

The foundation is laid in each step he takes that we step into.