A few years ago my oldest son took up the game of chess. He played on his elementary school team. To help him practice between days that they met for official practice, I would play him in a game of chess. He certainly got better over time, and even on one occasion he beat me because he finally listened to his old man. The one thing I noticed about him was that he would already have a move ready in his mind. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t made my move yet. He was ready, or so he thought. Many of the times when he would lose to me, it wasn’t because I was a superior player. Before he started playing chess, I had never played the game myself. The primary difference between the two of us was that I would try to take my time and think not only about the move I was going to make, but also I would try to think two to three moves ahead. Andrew on the other hand, just wanted to make his move. There were multiple times that as soon as I would make my move, he would immediately make his and say “your move dad.” The time that he beat me, he took his time, surveyed the board, saw what he wanted to do, and even tried to think through how I would play my moves. I would like to say that that occurred shortly after we started playing, but to the best of my recollection, it took about three or four months. I would always plead with him to slow down, take his time, and think through what he was doing. I got to thinking about this story when I read through a familiar Bible story the other day.
The Bible story is found in Matthew 19. It is about a young man who came to Jesus. The young man wanted to know how he could be saved. After Jesus and this young man had a conversation, Jesus got to the heart of the issue. This young man thought he could do something to earn his way into heaven. He was convinced that he had followed the Mosaic Law and treated others the way he should have. Then Jesus drops this bomb on him, “If you will be perfect (complete in your faith), go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” (Mt. 19:21). Jesus had a two-fold reason for His answer. First, He wanted to show this young man that he didn’t really love others as much as he thought he did. Second, Jesus wanted to reveal to this young man who his god really was. Jesus’ declaration of giving it all away and following Him was meant to show that this young man loved his stuff more than he loved the Savior. But this isn’t even the thought that ran through my mind at the time. What was running through my mind was how Jesus handled the situation. It is clear that Jesus loved this young man. He stopped, had a conversation with him, corrected some faulty theology the young man had, and even told him how he could be saved. But what we don’t see is Jesus bargaining with this young man. He told him what he needed to do in order to be saved, and then left it right there. Jesus essentially looked at this young man and said “your move.”
Jesus does the same for you and I today. He isn’t going to bargain with us, He isn’t going to beat us over the head in order for us to surrender to His grace that we might be saved. He is going to tell us what we need to know and what we need to do, and then He is going to leave it right there. The next move is our response to Jesus and His grace. Jesus has told us how to be saved, and He has told us how to live a life that brings Him glory and is for our good. If we love Jesus, we will obey Him (John 14:15). It’s great that we say that we love Jesus. The question is does our life reflect that? Jesus has given us all we need to know, so it’s our move. We will move closer to Him through loving obedience, or will we move further from Him?