The things we hold dearly seem to grip our hearts more than we can imagine. Sometimes I wonder about the dilemma of the “Rich young man” before Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22). He really wanted to follow Jesus, but there was something that gripped his heart more than his desire to follow Him.
Unfortunately this young man’s wealth had a grip on his heart. But isn’t this the case with many of us? If not money, it’s something else of importance. We want to follow without any limits, but there seems to be something that pulls us back.
Maybe the young man came to Jesus with a desire to help Jesus using his wealth. He probably felt a genuine desire to help with the expenses of Jesus and his disciples. Maybe he had political intentions in the coming kingdom that Jesus talked about. Maybe he recognized Jesus as the Messiah and truly wanted to be his follower.
When Jesus asked this man to sell all he had and give to the poor, he just couldn’t bring himself to do that. Jesus didn’t even ask him for a tithe of the proceeds. He was to simply get rid of everything. But those things had a firm grip on his heart.
What if the man obeyed and began selling off his possessions? As each item of value was sold off and the proceeds given to the poor, his heart would be torn. One by one, each transaction would tear up his insides. Everything he valued in life, and those things that gave him significance would be torn away.
His friends and family would probably desert him. They would either think he has gone crazy or is simply going through some weird phase in life. But clearly, he would lose friends, status, recognition, and those things that would be seen as valuable in society.
By the time the last item is sold, he would be stripped of everything in his heart. More than the material “stripping” that would happen; his heart would be stripped of the things that have a hold on his life. The problem was not his wealth. The problem was his heart that held on so tightly to the things of this life.
Then, when he comes to Jesus, he would come completely broken and empty. At that point, he would be able to receive all that Jesus has for him as a disciple. His heart would be open to the transforming work of the one he follows.
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