We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
One day one of the local officials asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?" Jesus said, "Why are you calling me good? No one is good—only God. You know the commandments, don't you? No illicit sex, no killing, no stealing, no lying, honor your father and mother." He said, "I've kept them all for as long as I can remember." When Jesus heard that, he said, "Then there's only one thing left to do: Sell everything you own and give it away to the poor. You will have riches in heaven. Then come, follow me." This was the last thing the official expected to hear. He was very rich and became terribly sad. He was holding on tight to a lot of things and not about to let them go. Seeing his reaction, Jesus said, "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who have it all to enter God's kingdom? I'd say it's easier to thread a camel through a needle's eye than get a rich person into God's kingdom." “Then who has any chance at all?" the others asked. "No chance at all," Jesus said, "if you think you can pull it off by yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it. Luke 18:18-28, The Message
Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. - Simone Weil
What God Gives
Luke 18 tells the story of a successful man and it shows us why he is a good example of how we can hinder our own growth. The man in the story enthusiastically came to Jesus seeking to increase his quality of life, but he walked away devastated with sadness and sorrow. Apparently, this man’s life included wealth, talent, social standing and religious excellence. But this wasn’t enough for him. He wanted more. Can you relate?
This man had confused personal success and having the good things in life with a satisfying life. Knowing this and knowing that having a good life alone will never satisfy anyone, Jesus did not give the man what he wanted. Instead, Jesus challenged the man’s virtue by questioning his lustful desire for more material, social and religious goodness which the man called “eternal life.” Scripture tells us how the man had no effective response to Jesus’ challenge because he wanted what he wanted more than what Jesus had to give. Let no one be confused here. The man had all the information that he needed to know. He had every opportunity to make the right choice. He was fully responsible for making the decision for his life and he was fully responsible for his own sadness. This is because his sadness was not a result of Jesus’ challenge; it was the result of his own inability to let go of the things he valued so much. It was not things that were his problem; it was his attachment to things that kept him stuck where he was. The man’s problem would have been easily solved if he had just been willing to let go and follow Jesus.
How many times have we been in a similar situation? How many times have we sensed that God wanted us to fess up and admit that we were holding on to well-polished idols? Perhaps God is pointing out certain things like personal qualities, talents, desires, interests, reliances or relationships that show that we are not as close to God as we would like others to believe. The message for all of us is clear. Jesus is calling us to let go of the things that we think we need or things we think we are entitled to. But, it’s more than that. The calling Jesus makes is not really about things at all; it is about the letting go. It is about our priorities, our relationships with things and our willingness to let go of things so that we can be free to be filled with the better things that God has for us.
“Sell all that you have and follow me.”
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