Getting It All by Letting It Go
“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21
Our stewardship series begins today, tying in themes from the final two weeks of the letter of James. This season of stewardship will find us
focusing on important actions to take as we God’s call: planning, praying, following and giving.
Stewardship Challenge Card Dedication is November 18th!
An extremely wealthy young millennial approaches Jesus eager to ask him a question. He inquired, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" immediately revealing an achievement attitude. He was accustomed to getting everything he wanted. At first, Jesus ignores his question and asks, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." In essence, he raises the question, "What is good enough?" as if we are judged by a
relative scale of merit. Jesus then assumes his religious background by listing the second half of the Ten Commandments which deal with our social responsibility to love our neighbor. The young man answers, "I have done this ever since I was a young boy." Jesus stood for a moment and gazed upon him, for he already knew what the young man would not let go.
Then Jesus goes to the heart of the matter and gives him this instruction:
"You're missing one thing; go and sell all your possessions, give the money to the poor, and come follow me." Jesus identifies the young man's real problem. He knew that the treasure of self-assurance would have to be exchanged for self-surrender. By giving it all away, he would switch his dependence on his possessions to total dependence on God. However, the price was too high, the demand too great, and the sacrifice too costly--so we walked away.
What occurs is a teachable moment for the disciples and for us. Jesus exclaims, "How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were mystified, since in Judaism, prosperity was often seen as a sign of God's favor. But then Jesus pressed on and said, "How hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to get into the kingdom of God." Is it hard because they are rich? No, it is hard because they have fallen in love with what they possess. It is hard because it requires an abandonment of what affirms us, and demands that we hand over our rights to all our possessions. Upon hearing Jesus' outlandish metaphor, the disciples ask, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus answers, "For people it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Our salvation is a gift of grace, and not anything that we can earn. Grace is our reason for sacrificial giving. It is not because we are good, but because God is good.