In Matthew 19, a rich young man posed a question to Jesus. The question was to the effect of, “What do I need to do to have eternal life?” Jesus tells him to love God, love his neighbor and follow the Ten Commandments. He answered that he has done that his whole life. Then Jesus says, “Then give away all that you have to the poor and follow Me.”
The young man is staggered. You can read between the lines in the story and almost hear his thoughts. All that he had? All that he has inherited and worked for? What of his social status, his position? What would his friends and neighbors think?
The Bible says “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Sorrowful; why, I wonder. Possibly sorrowful because he had thought he was good enough, but then Jesus tells him he’s not. Or maybe because his spiritual desire to follow Jesus had fought with his desires for material gain, and the material won.
This young man vividly reminds me of most Christian youth today. They are saved and they go to church, so they think that is enough. And there’s the problem in a nutshell! We should NEVER be comparing our Christian life with others and seeing if it’s enough! Our attitude should be “how much can I do for Christ? How close can I be to Him? How much like Him can I be?” Like Jesus says in verse twenty-one of chapter nineteen, we must forsake all and follow.
What is this “all” or “everything”? While most of us are not “rich” by today’s standard, we do have much more than most people in the world, and way more than we really need. The material lure of our American culture is astounding, and yet is a much bigger part of our life than we care to admit. We go shopping for clothes and accessories, though our closets and dressers are bulging already. We continually upgrade to the newest cell phone, laptop, iPod, mp3, TV, and car. Not that there was anything“wrong” with the old stuff; it just became “old stuff.” But why does it matter if it’s old? “Everyone else” has the new stuff and we don’t want to be “out.” The competition of being “in” is greater than we realize—it infiltrates almost all of our life. This material attachment is as strong or even stronger than the young man in the story faced (I can’t really picture a competition as to who has the nicest donkey), but still he couldn’t resist it.
So, is “everything” only referring to material? I don’t think so. I believe that there were even stronger pressures on the young man than merely material. There is also the pressures of status and social position. Not one of us wants to be left out or branded as an outcast. We all want to be accepted, liked, and wanted. If we discover that we are somehow different than the common mold, we either change or grow discouraged and feel let down. This social attachment is even stronger than material because it involves people, who can hurt us whether intentionally or not.
But all these things must grow "strangely dim," as it says in the song, "in the light of His Glory and Grace!"
Everything is just that: everything. Everything that takes our eyes of Jesus. Everything that distracts us from His purpose. Everything that drags us down from chasing the prize.
Hebrews 12:1-2 "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Jesus and His Cross must become paramount in my heart and life. Nothing else must be as important. I must value Him above all else, love Him above all else!
"No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier." 2 Timothy 2:4.
Remember Whom you serve! "Everything" really isn't that much when we consider the glory of God that is at stake! He deserves our best, our all, our everything. What we treasure, what we value the most, is very revealing about what we really love. When we refuse to give up our everything, then we declare that we are more important, that we don't really love Christ with our all. Think about it. What does your "everything" reveal about you?
Matthew 16:26 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"
Luke 14:3 "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
Matthew 16:25 “He who would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
“Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.” C.S. Lewis
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." Jim Elliot
What does your life reveal about what you value?
Who or what is your "everything," your all?
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."