Friday, February 27, 2015, 3:55 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Luke 18:18-30 (NASB).
One Thing You Lack
A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “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, follow Me.”
When we come into this life we are all born with sin natures, separated from God, and without hope. All of us have sinned, and we all come up short of attaining the approval of God and the hope of heaven (See Ro. 3:23). Not one of us can keep the whole law with absolute perfection, so the law can never save us. Only by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ and his blood shed for our sins, can we have the hope of eternal life in heaven with Jesus (See Eph. 2:8-10). Yet, the question always remains: “What is faith?”
Earlier Jesus had stated that if anyone would come after him, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow him (in obedience). He said that if we want to hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we willingly die to our old lives, we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). The apostles taught the same truth with regard to our eternal salvation. Paul said the way we come to know Christ is “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (See Eph. 4:20-24).
I believe this is the essence of what Jesus was telling this rich young ruler. So many people are willing to “do” things “for” God on their own terms. They may keep at least some of the rules, to the best of their ability, and they may even live morally clean lives, but they won’t yield their lives to Jesus Christ and give him everything. Jesus is saying, though, that to be his followers we must be willing to lay it all down to follow him. He wants our all on the altar. We can’t be his fully devoted followers if we are holding on to “other gods.” For the rich young ruler, his god was his wealth. He was not willing to give it up. For others it may be something else. It could be our entertainment choices, reputation, career, houses, possessions, pride, and/or self-will, etc. A “god” is anything we give our hearts, minds, loyalties, emotion and devotion to in place of or above God. These we must forsake.
When He Heard These Things
But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
So, what is the essence of what Jesus said here? I believe this message reaches far beyond just physical wealth, though that is a very difficult thing, evidently, for the rich to let go of. Many things of this world may have strongholds on our lives, and we may not be willing to let go of them to follow Jesus, and that is indeed very sad. I believe the principle here is that it is hard for those who possess much in the way of the things of this world to enter the kingdom of heaven, because it is hard for them to let go and to leave it all behind. This also means that to enter the kingdom of heaven, it requires that we let go and that we let God have his way in our lives. Sadly enough, this is not being taught much anymore, and so many people have been given a false hope of heaven based off a lie.
The message Jesus gave the rich young ruler is the same message he is giving to all of us, which is we must lay aside (die to) our old self-life, and that we are to then follow Jesus Christ in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives. This is impossible in our own human will and strength. We can do nothing to earn or to deserve our salvation. Yet God, who is rich in mercy, made the way possible for us to be saved. Jesus Christ paid the price for us so we could be set free from bondage to sin, so in his power and because of what he did for us in conquering sin on our behalf, we can be saved. All this is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet we must cooperate fully with his work of grace in transforming us away from living for sin and self to following our Lord Jesus in submission to his will.
Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”
I have always loved the stories in the gospels of Jesus calling his first disciples to follow him. All of them, or nearly all of them, immediately left their homes and careers, etc. to follow Jesus. They didn’t try bargaining with Jesus. Those who became his disciples did not ask for more time nor did they ask if they could follow him on weekends only. It was all or none. Jesus was very clear on the subject of what it takes to be one of his followers. He said his sheep listen to him and they follow (obey) him. He said we have to be willing to leave everything behind, and we also have to be willing to part with family members or to have family reject and hate us because of our decision to follow Jesus with our lives.
Yet, the benefits and blessings of following Jesus Christ in surrender, submission and obedience to him and to his teachings far outweigh anything we might lose in this life. All that is in this world is destined to perish, so if we hold on, we are holding on to what is subject to decay, and it may easily be taken away from us anyway, and then what have we gained? It is better to lay up treasures in heaven than on this earth. One day we are all going to stand before God to give an account for what we did with Jesus. There will be many who will say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do such and such for you?” and he is going to say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” And, yet others will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
What we may have to forfeit in this life is nothing in comparison to what we gain for eternity. If we are following Jesus Christ in obedience, and we are being his hands and his feet to the world around us, and if we are sharing with others the truth of the gospel of our salvation so that many will be saved, we will reap a harvest for our labor in the Lord. If we don’t see the harvest now, in this time we have on the earth, one day when we get to heaven we will get to meet all the people whose lives we have touched for Jesus on this earth. They are the treasures we are laying up in heaven.
May we all take this lesson to heart, and may we all take God and his word seriously, and may we all lay it all down for Jesus and be willing to go wherever he sends us, and to say what he wants us to say, and to do what he wants us to do for his glory and honor and for the salvation of souls and the encouragement and strengthening of the body of Christ.
Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011
Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.
Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.
Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.