Christian Counselor Education Training: Those to Give
Who will you emulate, not just during Christmas, but your entire life–the richman as found in the Gospel of Luke or St. Nicholas? With the feast of St. Nicholas approaching and the happen chance reading of the passage in Luke about the richman, I found many interesting correlations for Christian Counseling.
Luke 18:18-27 tells the story of the richman who hoped to impress Christ with his adherence to the Law of Moses. The richman had kept all the commandments and continued to press Christ on what made someone “good” or worthy to attain eternal salvation. Christ quickly offered him the rhetorical question of what makes someone good?- And then very quickly reminded him that noone is good but God himself. This did not pertain to Christ denying his divinity, but asserting that all goodness flows from God and any finite creation cannot attain salvation without that source of God. Hence, in keeping the commandments, we are not earning heaven, as Pelagius would contend, but instead by the grace of our cooperation, being given the gift of salvation.
Christ, however, pushes the question further to the richman because he knew the man’s heart. He told him to become closer to God, one must give up their possessions and give to the poor. These corporal works of mercy greatly distressed the richman for he had much to lose. His attachment to material things exposed his sin of greed.
Does this mean that Christ is against private ownership or personal possessions? No, but it does emphasize the dangers of greed and materialism in our spiritual life. If material things are more important than sharing, giving and eternal life then we have a serious obsession with finite things. An obsession that could cost us our spiritual life. This is why Christ firmly states, that it is easier for a camel to pass through an eye of a needle than a richman to enter into heaven. This was not a marxist class warfare statement, but an observation of those who hold to material things before their spiritual welfare.
In contrast to the richman, we see the kindness and giving of St. Nicholas. The true and historical St. Nicholas was an Eastern Bishop of the early church. His love and compassion for his fellow man was unequaled in his time. He gave everything he had to his city and people. His giving became so well known that history to this day associates him with the greatest gift, the Incarnation of Our Lord.
St. Nicholas understood the meaning of spiritual treasure. He also followed the command of Christ to give to the poor and share one’s gifts. Do we behave more like the richman or St. Nicholas?
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Mark Moran, MA