Hope for Tethered Hearts

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | February 15, 2024

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:21-23

When I teach at church on the topic of generosity, I usually ask people to pull out their wallets. Some do it right away; others hesitate. It’s a simple object lesson, but I can always tell who’s worried that I’m going to take an offering. I never have. Instead, I simply invite people to pass their purse or wallet to a stranger seated nearby while I continue the lesson. You can imagine how this goes, and how you would respond in the same situation.

God gives us many resources beyond money—time, skills, relationships, spiritual gifts, life experiences, and more. But money tugs on our heartstrings like nothing else. If we have it, we want to hold on to it. If we don’t have it, we find ways to get it. In both cases, we fear having too little or losing what we’ve earned. Our financial realities reflect so much of our identity, priorities, and relationship with God. Ultimately, the Lord trusts us to steward whatever He puts in our hands. Adjusting our approach to earning, giving, saving, and spending is a highly tangible way to discover where our hearts are tethered so we can grow in gratitude and generosity.

Enter today’s vignette of the young man and Jesus in Matthew 9. He’s genuinely on the path toward a glorious future, yet this moment uncovers where he still needs to be untethered. Christ tells him to open his heart by surrendering his wallet. But it’s too hard, at least for today. Despite being wealthy in more ways than one, he walks away with a sobering awareness that he can’t walk freely with God and others when what he has is holding him back.

We don’t know what happens to this rich young ruler down the road. But by God’s grace, there’s always hope for tethered hearts. This scene gives every one of us a wake-up call regarding wealth. It’s hard for anyone with any resources—whether a lot or a little—to enter God’s Kingdom unless we let go first. As we step into today, let’s grab our wallets and ask the Lord to untether our hearts by giving us an opportunity to grow in gratitude and generosity.

Next Steps

  • When is it easy or hard for you to be financially generous, and why?
  • How does your gratitude toward God affect your willingness to be openhanded with whatever resources He gives you?
  • Ask God to cross your path with someone in need today. Allow Him to guide you as you seek to serve them in a tangible way.