Matthew 19:12

Author: Dr. George M. Flattery

Matthew 19:12

silhouette of child sitting behind tree during sunset

Thoughts from Matthew 19:12

My “thoughts” for a few days will be what Jesus said about life-shaping forces. Jesus talked about several forces that shape our lives. We are often asked what causes human behavior. We may have in mind a range of behavior from excellent to very bad.

While talking with His disciples Jesus said: “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who can accept this, let him accept it” (Matthew 19:12).

According to Bauer, the Greek word for eunuchs can refer to castrated men, to men who are not castrated but are incapable of marrying and begetting children, and to those who abstain from marriage without being impotent. Although these subjects are not my topics here, I mention this passage because, as others have noted, it has implications for the forces that influence our lives.

Our discussions will force these forces. These forces are heredity, environment, and will. Concerning heredity, Jesus said that there were eunuchs who “were born” that way. Concerning the environment, He said that there were eunuchs who “were made eunuchs by men.” Then, He said that there were eunuchs who “made themselves” eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.”

When Jesus mentions the “kingdom of heaven,” He brings into focus the fourth force. That fourth force has to do with the power of God and all the transformation that He brings about through the redemptive work of Christ. We will devote our next “thoughts” to these forces.

More Thoughts from Matthew 19:12

Jesus recognized heredity as one of the forces that shape our lives. He said that some eunuchs “were born that way from their mother’s womb.” Many traits are ours because of heredity. Our race, gender, full-grown height, the color of our eyes, and many more traits are determined fully by heredity. Other traits are not determined by heredity but are strongly influenced.

On the one hand, concerning the impact of heredity, we can think in terms of the opportunities that it provides for us in life. For example, young people with the physical traits that enable them to do well in sports may have great opportunities at various levels of play. To some extent, mental traits are rooted in heredity. Those traits can open many doors of opportunities in a vast number of occupations and disciplines. Our inherited traits are tools that we can use in all aspects of life.

On the other hand, heredity can be a force that limits us as well. A short young person who wants to be a star center on the basketball team will not likely succeed in that role. Heredity did not bless him with the requisite size. Sometimes people overcome, to some extent, the impact of heredity. Sometimes the limits of heredity can be stretched and partially overcome. Ultimately, however, heredity imposes its limits.

We will consider the spiritual dimensions of heredity when we discuss the fourth life-shaping force. Today, we can be realistic about our inherited limitations and yet be very grateful for the opportunities that heredity provides.

More Thoughts from Mathew 19:12

Jesus recognized heredity, environment, and well as forces that shape our lives. Then, he mentioned the kingdom of heaven as a fourth force. In my last “thoughts” we discussed heredity.

Today, our topic is the environment. Jesus said, “There are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men.” Men that were made eunuchs by men encountered men in their environment that had a great impact on their lives. Our environment includes people, but there are many other forces as well.

Our environment, for example, may greatly influence our vocation. Most of us, to one degree or another, have had training for the tasks that we have assumed. Through that training, we have sharpened our tools, increased our knowledge, and developed our abilities to the best that we can.

The environment has an impact on all aspects of life. As an example, parents are concerned that their children do not fall into the “wrong crowd.” Unfortunately, some parents have to deal with the fact that their children may be the leaders in that crowd. Sometimes, bad things may happen to us that change the course of our lives. When they do, we have to adjust to our new realities.

On a more positive note, the environment often affords great opportunities for us. Very often doors open that have a life-long impact. We may be at the right place at the right time with the right knowledge and skills. This may be a moment when we have great opportunities. Whenever we can, subject as always to doing God’s will, let us seize those opportunities!

More Thoughts from Matthew 19:12

Jesus recognized heredity, environment, and well as forces that make us who we are. In my previous “thoughts” we have discussed the impact of heredity and the environment. Today, we will concentrate on our will, our ability to choose our path and reach our goals.

My purpose is not to enter into a political discussion, but one can readily see that various political ideologies have roots in these three forces. The ideologies may emphasize the limits and opportunities of our inherited characteristics. Some ideologies stress what others in our environment can do for us. Still, other political philosophies stress what we can do for ourselves and others.

Concerning theology, we have similar emphases. One theological position stresses our heredity. For example, this position emphasizes Adam’s original sin and the impact that it had on the human race. Another position highlights our environment, the people in it, and what they may influence us to do. These people may have a strong impact, negative or positive, on our relationship with God. Concerning our will, we think of our freedom to make choices, set goals, and realize our dreams.

Today, I would like to underscore the importance of having a purpose in life. Life without purpose may border on being meaningless. So it is important for us to find God’s will as our purpose and to choose to live in harmony with that purpose. When we choose to align our purpose in life with God’s plan and purpose for us, we will live the most fulfilling life.

More Thoughts from Matthew 19:12

As we have been discussing, Jesus recognized the impact of heredity, environment, and will on our lives. Today, my “thoughts” will be about a fourth force, one which powerfully transforms us. I am referring to the force of the new birth and the spiritual life that ensues.

In our text, Jesus does not explicitly refer to this force. However, he does say that some men “made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Given Christ’s reference to the kingdom of heaven, we can readily recognize the transforming power of that kingdom. The Holy Spirit enables us to live according to the principles of the kingdom of heaven.

When we believe in Christ, we are born again. In a spiritual sense, we have new heredity. The apostle Paul said, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Although we still contend with our old heredity, we have a new foundation. Our new life is grounded in new heredity.

In addition, we become members of the body of Christ. Paul declared, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Our environment is filled with people who believe in Jesus and follow Him.

Finally, as followers of Christ, we want to discover His will for us and live in harmony with that will. Paul wrote this exhortation, “I urge you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2).

George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.

Excerpts transferred from a series originally posted on Dr. George's Facebook.

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