Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Matthew 19:21-22 (NLT)
I shifted uncomfortably when I read these words this morning. It is not because I am rich. I am not, at least according to US standards. I was uncomfortable because last night I bucked and kicked against the idea of doing something I did not want to do. Have you ever done that? Well, I have and I have done it more times than what I care to admit.
It is very easy to do the things we want to do. In fact, we set about doing it eagerly and with great joy. If someone would dare to suggest that we do not have to do it if we don't want to, we quickly insist, "Oh no! It is no trouble at all. Please, let me do it." We certainly should do things we enjoy for God and take pleasure in doing so but at the same time, these things seldom require little or no sacrifice on our part.
The Rich Young Ruler was in that sort of predicament. He did all sorts of good things and I have no doubt that he took great pleasure in doing them but these things were easy. They involved little to no sacrifice on his part. He wanted to do them though his true motivation for doing so, may not have been pure. It seems to have been more for himself rather than for others or God.
Before we judge this man too quickly though, we need to take a good hard look at what happens when God asks us to do something we do not want to do. Do we find ourselves balking at the idea? Do we start making excuses as to why we can't or shouldn't have to? Do we tell God to find someone else? Do we even go so far as get mad at Him and say, "I won't!"
If you haven't, that's wonderful because I have and last night, my poor husband had to witness my stubborness and displeasure. He was very patient and let me get it out of my system. He waited and God waited, until I was ready to listen. When God spoke, I cried. "But I don't want too! Why do I always have to! It's not fair!" God was very patient with me but He was also very firm. I was wrong and I needed to get rid of my attitude now or I would regret it later.
I snuffled a bit. I knew He was right. Even now I was completely miserable and I didn't want to stay that way. Tears filled my eyes and I snuffled my way before the Father asking Him to not only forgive me but to cleanse my heart of this wrong attitude.
Yes, He did forgive me and yes, He gave me a right attitude but to my surprise, He also did something else. Yes, I still had to do the thing God wanted me to do but because I yielded to His will and placed it above my own, He showed me how I could still do what I wanted to do but at another time.
When God wants us to make a sacrifice, regardless of what it is, it is not a punishment. It is something for our own good as well as often for the benefit of others. When we cheerfully obey God, one way or another He will bless us in return.
Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.