. . . Jesus . . . said to him, ’You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have . . . and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich —Luke 18:22-23*
Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.
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.
Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.
from My Utmost for His Highest
*Luke 18:18-29: Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”
And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?”
But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.”
So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
There have been times in my life where I just simply was distrustful of what the Bible said. I believed it, certainly. But I thought that what it said was something that I didn’t want. Take, for example, having a fear of heaven. It seems perfectly reasonable to fear it; in order to get there, you have to die, something which is aptly avoided. So, when I was a child, I had this sense that heaven isn’t really a great place, just the place I’d go to after death.
Then we have this example, this fear that God would have us do as He had this man, and give all that we had. And I can definitely say that I had this fear that God didn’t want me to have nice things or pleasures, like simply having them was sinful.
These fears stem from the fact that I didn’t trust God. It is so easy to say, “God has your best interest at heart,” but it is such another to actively believe it. When we have fears like this, it’s because we haven’t fully realized yet, that what God wants for us, is what we want for us. Because we are still growing, we don’t know it, but what God wants the absolute best for us.
So, if God asks us to remove something from our lives, it’s not just for Him, but for us; because it’s not just in the way of our relationship with Him, it’s in the way of our own joy. If God wants us to go somewhere, it's not just for Him, it’s because we are better off there ourselves. But our couch is too comfortable, and our carrots taste too good.