Return to the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
Two individuals came to Jesus, each with a deep spiritual problem. One found life, but the other lost it. What was the difference?
The first person was a rich young ruler who approached the Lord with the most burning question of his heart: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18).
He was not seeking a religious debate as so many others did. He honestly wanted to know. When Jesus listed five of the commandments, the young man replied that he had a perfect record in keeping them all. Christ simply responded to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor . . . and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). Scripture tells us that the rich ruler went away sorrowful (Matthew 19:22).
The second man (Luke 19:2 – 19:8) was also rich, but he had gained his wealth by shamelessly defrauding others. Zacchaeus was a well-known crook. When Jesus came to his house, He said nothing to the man about selling his house or giving his money away. Amazingly, Zacchaeus freely made the decision to give half of his possessions to the poor and restore four times the amount he stole to everyone he’d cheated.
What was it that compelled Zacchaeus to respond so differently than the rich young ruler?
When Zacchaeus saw Christ, he saw the pearl of great price. He saw in Him everything, all things, completion. Zacchaeus realized that all things pertaining to life is in Christ alone. He realized, If I have Him, I can easily give away everything. What else do I need?
But when the young ruler saw Jesus, he didn’t see the pearl of great price. If we could know what his thoughts were that day, I imagine most of them were focused on what he would be giving up, more than what he would gain in Christ.
We very often make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. We truly want to follow Christ and experience His abundant life, but we focus on what we may have to give up and are afraid to let go of those things we have relied on for so long. The things of this world gives us a "false sense of security" which we cling on to. We call it "being wise" "being practical", and other terms to explain it away. Ever tried "being foolish for the Lord"? Ever tried "letting go of things this world clings on to"?
I challenge you to try it. Try walking out into the street, pick a random person who appears to be lonely. Invite him/her to lunch. For a change, don't worry about the money you'll have to spend. Don't worry about what your friends will think. Just be foolish and do something contrary to the world. Treat the person to a sumptuous lunch. Just sit with the person and talk about life and love the person. If you get a chance, talk about your faith in the Lord and what He has done for you. Bless the person and leave. Tell me thereafter that you don't feel more alive!!! Examine yourself thereafter. If you are cringing at the money spent, then you know where your heart is. If you are feeling alive and joyful like never before, praise the Lord. You've got it!!!
I believe the Lord looks for that “one thing” we grasp so tightly and depend on. It could be anything: our strength, our abilities, our education, a meaningful relationship, our years of Christian experience, our connections, the good reputation we have established, our position, our extraordinary discernment and other spiritual gifts, our plans for marriage or the things of this world like the rich young ruler.
As long as we hold on to that one thing in which we trust, we will never be able to surrender fully to Christ. Such lack of intimacy with the Lord results in frustration and discouragement on our part. In addition, that one thing will be a constant hindrance for the rivers of living water to flow freely out from us and give life to others.
How do we recognize the “one thing” still lacking in us? We will know it by the discouragement, tension, bitterness, frustration and irritation that fill our hearts, when that “one thing” is tampered with. God will open our eyes, and we will recognize it if we truly desire to. We will then have the grace to surrender it to the Lord, not by looking at what we are letting go, but by looking at all that we have in Christ— the pearl of great price.
You see, if “our riches,” that which we value most are, the Lord and what we have in Him, then no raging storm can cause any disturbance. I believe the Lord wants us to live in a continual state of seeing Him as "all sufficient" and being content in Him alone. Those whose life is full of joy and in the unhindered presence of the Lord are the ones who experience a continuous feast on Him. Nothing else will matter to them, and abandonment to Christ alone is their obvious choice.
Not of this World
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years of my walk with God, I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.
True freedom is freedom from self-centeredness. Dying to yourself, your wants, your desires and to what gives you pleasure for the sake of others is more liberating than you think.