Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21
Can we play “Let’s Pretend” for just a few minutes? Let’s say we’re with that motley group of disciples who were following Jesus on the eventful day when the rich young man approaches him. Obviously, the young man has an interest in Jesus and his teachings and has a desire to increase his understanding of spiritual things. He genuinely wants to know what he should do to gain eternal life.
You remember the story. Jesus reminds the young man that he’s to keep the commandments, to which the young man respectfully responds that he’s already done that. He probably grew up the way many of us did—listening to the Bible stories and learning rules. He most likely was a dutiful young man who was admired and held out as an example to the other young folks.
Then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter: “Go; sell everything; and give it all away.”
What would be your first reaction? Jesus didn’t say that to me. What if he DID say it to you? We know that he said it to that one young man at a specific point in history.
But WHAT IF? Would you be panicked with fear? Would you be squirming? Would you think, where do I begin? Would you think that the voice surely couldn’t be God? Would you, like the young man, go away sorrowful?
Of course, God wants to provide for us and to meet our needs. That’s not what this story is about. It’s about love and priorities and trust. A loving Father wants to be first in our lives and wants our trust to be in him to take care of us and not in the things that occupy so much of our time and energy and space. Does it make you even a tiny bit uncomfortable to think that God just might ask you to make him a greater priority in your life?
When we were helping our parents downsize so they could get the proper medical treatment and care needed, I worked for about a year going through closets and cupboards to sort out the accumulations of decades, the things that might be needed someday. My father’s workshop was the most difficult. My sweet son-in-law helped me by hauling away countless loads of hardware and junk that were part of my dad’s treasures. (Curiously, Dad’s Alzheimer’s provoked him to “hide” a lifetime of expensive collections in the big garbage bin. You know what happened.)
Jesus said that our hearts are with our treasure. What would we say if he did ask us to give it all away?
Father, search our hearts. May you find that Jesus is Lord, and that everything we desire is in him. May we hold loosely everything that we have, for we are merely stewards. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.