When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
It’s heart-wrenching to watch the rich young ruler that Jesus encountered fail the wealth test. I’d like to think that I would respond differently, but honestly, I’m pretty tied to my money, resources, time, and earthly treasures. Even when I think I’m being generous, it’s pennies compared to investing my whole heart to follow Christ.
I suppose the big question for you and me from this passage is this: “What’s holding us back from selling everything?” Jesus’ question really is straightforward and simple, even if it doesn’t feel that way to us. Like the wealthy man that He locked eyes with, we have a hard time dropping everything because it’s not just our money that’s stored in a vault, it’s our heart.
If you haven’t revisited Proverbs 4:23 in a while, I encourage you to steep in it over a warm cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa. Take fifteen minutes to let God speak to your heart through these words: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
You see, as I think of Jesus’ challenge to this young, successful, almost-perfect-Ten-Commandment-rule-keeper, I imagine Christ’s eyes communicating the heart behind Proverbs 4:23. We’re commanded to pursue spiritual vitality, not self-protection. Unlike money, our heart doesn’t belong in a vault, hidden away from real emotions, real people, real issues, and real needs. Jesus invites the rich young ruler to lay it all on the line in service to God and people struggling to survive in this world.
We don’t know how the man’s story ends after he walks away from Jesus with a sad heart and his head hanging low. We also don’t know what Christ would have said if the man agreed to sell everything on the spot. What we do know is that true contentment requires surrender and stewardship of whatever resources God gives us. You and I can follow Christ more fully if we open the vault so that our hearts and our money can be His.
- One way to test how tethered your heart is to money is by rethinking the way you tip at a restaurant. How do you typically feel when it’s time to add a percentage to the total bill? Try doubling the amount next time you go out and see how unlocking your wallet opens your heart.
- Have you heard of the Dollar Club? Check out a unique opportunity to grow in generosity and bless someone in need.