Walking Away Sad

Message:  In Matthew 19 the Pharisees came back to test Jesus with more of their “is it lawful if…” type of questions. They hoped to get Jesus to contradict Moses in order to prove that Jesus was a fraud. Their questions were always framed in a black & white rule sort of way, but Jesus always responded with a response that exposed the heart issue. The same thing happened when the rich young ruler came. His opening question exposed his motives in the first place when he said “what good must I do to enter?” He seemed to hope he would impress Jesus with his claim to following every command, but Jesus exposed something deeper in his heart when he told him to sell everything he owned, give it to the poor and follow him. It’s not that Jesus was saying that wealth was bad. He was just exposing what was most important to this man. This was too great a command and after his claim to all of his years of doing good and following rules, he walked away sad from one request that was just too much. As I thought about this, I realized how easily we all fall into that same trap. We don’t see it that way, but we live out our lives following rules and and doing good things, but there are certain things in our lives that we have set apart for ourselves and the idea of surrendering those things (no matter what they are) causes us to live in a bargain mentality. We hope that if we do enough good, then God will be happy with us and not touch the things we don’t want him to touch. But God is asking us what those things are that are non-negotiables in our lives. Sometimes these are sin issues we don’t want to let go of, but sometimes it’s much more subtle than that. Sometimes our love for the people or the blessings in our lives is in the way of our obedience to God. It sounds honorable to love our families this much but when situations arise that take, or threaten to take our families, jobs or possessions and we begin to blame or question God it exposes our attitude that as long as we do good things for him, we have an expectation for God to hold up “his end of the deal” by protecting us from having to lose anything of value.  The question is, will we still serve God when we face the threat of loss? Will we set aside our idolatrous image of what we believe our lives should look like, in order to serve God in the face of loss and brokenness? Is our commitment to God contingent on the grounds that he restore or supply the things we love or want? These are hard questions, and we may believe we are serving God without conditions until something happens and our immediate reaction exposes the truth.  Today I need to honestly ask myself if there is anything in my heart that would cause me to walk away sad or even mad if God took it or asked me to lay it down?

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