He saith unto Him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto Him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”
I have long felt that this is one of the saddest stories in the New Testament, revealing how shallow the “faith” of this young man really was. At the same time, the story has always made me squirm at my own struggle with giving up everything to follow Christ. Really, Lord? Everything? Even that which I’m very sure You Yourself have given me–my husband, my children, my grandchildren? Aren’t they my ministry just as much as anyone else You put in my path?
See, we can all say that, to some extent, we have “kept the law.” We haven’t murdered anyone. Most of us (believers) probably haven’t committed adultery, we don’t steal, we don’t lie about other people, we try to honor our parents, we try to love our neighbors. . . .did you notice all the “try” in there? Who among us can say we have kept all the law? Have you ever wondered at this young man’s claim to have done so? He doesn’t seem to realize that he needs a Savior, does he?
And yet, when Jesus cut right to the heart of the matter, he had to hang his head in sorrow and walk away because he could not bear the idea of giving up all his worldly possessions to feed the poor, and then to follow Jesus.
Maybe the thing we love more than we love God isn’t our “stuff.” Maybe it’s our children, our spouses, our careers, our fame or our position. Whatever it is that keeps us from that final giving up of everything that stands between us and complete surrender is an idol.
God does not demand that every single one of us give up everything in order to follow Him. Good thing for us, right? But I do believe He wants us to be willing to give up everything to follow Him.