By John Daniel Jones
"Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?"(Matt. 19:16).
Jesus confronted this young ruler with his own words. "Good Master," He said. "Why callest thou Me good?" replied Jesus, as if to ask "Do you mean what you say?"--What is this--a true word or just a compliment? It was more than a protest against the loose use of words; it was a demand for reality. The merely conventional and formal was hateful to Jesus. He demanded truth in the inward parts. He didn't want this young ruler to use towards Him the language that should be the expression of his real soul. Reality, sincerity, was what our Lord demanded. If there was one thing He loathed more than another it was pretence, formalism; what He called hypocrisy. And nowhere is pretence and unreality more utterly hateful than in religion.
Perhaps I am not forcing my text unduly if I see in it a warning against religious cant. What exactly do we mean by can't? My dictionary defines it as "speaking with affectation about religion." It means using religious terms which we do not sincerely mean. And there is a sore temptation to do that, partly because people expect to hear certain terms and partly because men wish to gain a certain reputation for orthodoxy. But it is a fatal thing to do. It is an insult to Him who is the Truth to speak to Him, or about Him, in words which are insincere.