“And when Jesus heard this, He said to them ‘One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess, and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.’ But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.” (Luke 18:22:23 NASB)
This was the scripture I read this morning as part of my Bible study. I am reading “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan. I am also doing the workbook because I wanted to dig deeper into the study. And when I opened my study this morning, this is what I was supposed to read. I’ve read this passage a thousand times and honestly thought to myself; oh that guy loves his possessions more than Jesus. That guy is rich and he doesn’t want to give up his comfort for Jesus. That guy doesn’t have his priorities straight. I’m glad I’m not that guy.
Today reading this scripture, I realized that I am not much different than that guy. He was doing all the right things. He wanted to follow God and keep His commands. In fact, the rich ruler seemed to be a pretty decent guy. He didn’t murder, or commit adultery. He didn’t dishonor his parents or lie. It sounds like he was a doing everything just right and he thought he was in. Surely Jesus could use his services and definitely his resources. But Jesus response saddened him. Jesus looked straight at his heart and said you have to give up everything to follow me. You have to sell it all if you want to follow me. The only difference between that guy and me is a lot of money. I may not be wealthy, but there are things that I hold dear and don’t want to let go of. There are things that prevent me from following Jesus fully.
I often get this picture in my head of me leading God and showing Him where I want to go. It looks like a kid pulling her dad through a toy store pointing out all of the things she wants her dad to buy. She leads him up one aisle and then down the other collecting all of the things she thinks will make her happy. And when she gets bored with those things, she asks for bigger and better things. Sometimes, I feel like I am like that with God. I pray and pray and pray for things that will bring me pleasure and a short time later, I’m bored and want something new. Instead of leading God and showing all that I want, I should be following Him. He should be the one leading me up and down the aisles of life showing me what He has for me if I would just let Him. His store is filled with blessing only they don’t look like what I would desire. His store carries forgiveness and humility. He wants to give me love and joy. How about peace and patience? He wants me to be giving and self sacrificing. I guess these things are not as appealing because they don’t center on me, they center on Him.
Jesus was not asking this man to give up his wealth as much as He was asking him to give up his treasure. He asks the same of us. He simply wants to be the most important person in our lives. He will probably never ask us to sell all of our possessions, but He will most definitely ask us to hand over the things that are keeping us from following Him. And He will always give us a choice. Like the rich ruler, we can hang our heads and walk away. Or we can choose to follow Him fully.