Today’s Scripture is: Luke 18: 18-27 (The Message) The Rich Official
18 One day one of the local officials asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to deserve eternal life?” 19-20 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.” 21 He said, “I’ve kept them all for as long as I can remember.” 22 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.” 23 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. 24-25 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.” 26 “Then who has any chance at all?” the others asked. 27 “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.”
Sunday’s message was all about denying ourselves and following Jesus to the fullest. It was a powerful message and reminder of the cost of being a Jesus follower and the challenge God calls us to as His apprentices. There were two things in particular that grabbed my attention in the message: “Watch out for the dangerous middle ground of ‘partial’ surrender” and “There’s a cost to following Jesus, but there’s a greater cost not to follow Him”.
The rich Official desired to obey the law and commandments, but when it came to giving up what was most precious to him (his wealth), Jesus wasn’t enough. He had only partially surrendered his life... he did what was technically easier for him to do and hoped that it would be good enough to get him into heaven, but Jesus wanted his heart. He knew what the Official really loved... and only by giving that up, could he give his heart to Jesus.
I’ve really thought about this... thought about what God may be asking me to give up for Him that would really deliver me from consumerism or putting other god’s before Him. I’ve thought of many things actually, and although I don’t necessarily think He’s telling me to do all of those things NOW... is my heart ready to do it if He calls? My biggest question when I think of denying myself or denying my life or way of life is this.... “Is Jesus enough for me?” For me, that’s what denying myself is all about - living for Jesus in a way that shows that I’m trusting Him to be enough to fill the holes of anything that I let go of that is holding my heart captive. I can share Him with others, testify about His goodness, support His church, be a light for Him, help others, serve in various ways, etc., but these things can be done without real sacrifice even though they are good things. To be able to honestly say I love Him... my life has to be more than doing good things - I have to be willing to give anything up for Him. The Official was doing all the right things and maybe even making an impact on the people around him by obeying the commandments, but he didn’t love Jesus enough to give his whole heart to Him, and that had eternal ramifications which means the cost of not following Jesus was huge.
The thing is...everything I have or do is His anyway and was given to me by Him. So if I am called to deny myself, it’s foolish to think that He will not provide what I need and fill the void that denial could cause, since He gave me the very thing I’m giving up in the first place! The more I realize that all I have is His, and all of me is His - the more sense it makes to trust Him in anything He calls me to give up or to do. That’s why Jesus said, “if you think you can pull this denial thing off by yourself, there’s no chance. But there’s every chance in the world if you trust me to do it!” It all comes down to truly loving Him... trusting Him... and believing that He is enough for me in all circumstances!
Father, You are enough for me! I know I can trust you to provide the strength, resources, and power to do anything you call me to do. I know you will fill any void, and calm any fear or anxiety associated with your call. I truly love you Jesus and your love draws me to be available and open to denying myself for your sake. I just need you to show me how, what and when! Amen.
How did this scripture hit you today? What is God saying to you? I would love to hear - denise