“A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.” Luke 18:18-23
I was reading from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers today and came across something unexpected in the devotions for August 17-18. In sharing the passage above, Oswald Chambers noted: “Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, ‘Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.’ Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him – He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.” The rich, young ruler walked away sad and discouraged. Have I come to a point where the things that I dwell on the most have become less important than Jesus?
Chambers asked the question, “Are you more devoted to your idea of what Jesus wants than to Jesus Himself?” All I could do was stop and think and wonder. He went on to say, “I can be so rich in poverty, or in the awareness of the fact that I am nobody, that I will never be a disciple of Jesus. Or I can be so rich in the awareness that I am somebody that I will never be a disciple. Am I willing to be destitute and poor even in my sense of awareness of my destitution and poverty? If not, that is why I become discouraged, Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus – not love for Jesus Himself.”
Those are strong words and thought-provoking questions. What are the things that come between me and Jesus? Am I more focused on my own inadequacies than I am on Jesus? Am I more caught up in my own circumstances than I am with Jesus? Do I find more joy in the things that I have than in Jesus? What is it that I am so “rich” in that it becomes a distraction from Jesus Himself? Maybe this is where God has brought me; bringing me to an understanding that nothing good or bad should be more important than He is. Intellectually I know this, but in my heart, I may be holding on to things that God would rather have me let go of and give to him.
One last thing on Chambers definition of discouragement – this was another of those statements that stopped me in my tracks. Am I more in love with the idea of following Jesus or actually following Him? This is one of those evaluative questions that each of us needs to ask ourselves. Are we truly in love with Jesus or are we more in love with the idea of being in love with Him? I would love to hear anyone’s thoughts, so please feel free to comment and share.