Are You Willing to Walk With Jesus In the Place of Giving Up Nothing

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find it coming directly on the heels of two of the greatest teachings found within the public life and ministry of Jesus—namely, that of humility and forgiveness. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find that it is a chapter that begins with the disciples asking Jesus a very specific question—a question that hasn’t necessary been asked a whole lot since them, nor even a question that many are asking now, but rather a question that men and women attempt to ask and prove within and throughout their live. The question the disciples asked and presented unto Jesus was that of who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven—a question to which Jesus responded by setting a child among them in their midst and emphatically declaring unto them that unless they were converted and became like the little child among them they would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. What makes this particular encounter and exchange between Jesus and His disciples—and not only between Jesus and His disciples then, but also between Jesus and His disciples, and even between Jesus’ disciples within this generation—is that the disciples thought and believed that the kingdom of heaven was something that would and could have within it some type of hierarchy where one could somehow attain unto greatness. Ever since the time when this question was asked by the disciples—and not only a question which was asked of the disciples during this time, but also one which they would dispute and reason among themselves at the table in the upper room concerning which among them was the greatest—there have been men and women among the disciples and followers of Jesus Christ who have attempted to flesh out the reality of this question within their hearts and lives.

            I sit here today and I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that although this question might not be asked by professing Christians among us within our Christian circles, and although this question might not be asked within our church buildings in this generation—it is a question which men and women through their actions seek to prove and demonstrate among themselves. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider—even for a moment—that there aren’t and there haven’t been men and women who through their actions have thought, believed, and have even considered the reality that they themselves could somehow be great in the kingdom of heaven. Moreover, there are actually men and women among us within our church buildings who are spending their days, their time, their effort and their energy—not only in being great, but also even being greater than others, and even the greatest. Oh it is true that such men and women might not be striving to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, however, it is true that they are attempting to be the greatest within the church buildings they worship in, and among the saints and believers they worship with. We would be incredibly naïve and deceived to think that men and women among us within this generation are not seeking to be great and to be the greatest within their own Christian circles, and are willing to do whatever they feel is necessary to achieve that greatness. There are men and women who actually think and believe that they could somehow be greater than those around them, and that they can somehow attain to some profound and powerful place of greatness within the body of Christ. There are men and women who are willing to expend a tremendous amount of effort and energy in doing whatever they can to be greater than others—and not only be greater than others, but also the greatest among those whom they worship with.

            I won’t spend a lot of time on this particular subject matter because I have already written about it, however, I would in fact like to point out that we do ourselves a great disservice and a great dishonor to the Lord our God when we think that we can somehow be great, can somehow be greater, and can somehow be greatest among those present among us. We do a great dishonor to and before the living God when we seek to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, for in our pursuit to be great, and in our pursuit to be the greatest we leave absolutely no room for the Lord Jesus Christ to be great within and great through us. When and as we seek to be great, greater and the greatest in the kingdom of heaven we demonstrate through our words and our actions that we have absolutely no need for the one true and living God. What’s more, is that we leave absolutely no room for impossibility to be manifested in our lives, for why would the God who specializes in the impossible be wiling to manifest the impossible within and through our lives when we through our words and actions demonstrate that we are great, that we are greater, and that we are the greatest? Why would the living and eternal God even consider demonstrating and manifesting the impossible within our hearts and lives when we through our words and actions demonstrate that we can somehow produce, manifest and manufacture our own greatness? There is not a doubt in my mind that those who seek and those who strive to be great, and those who seek to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven are those who will see very little of the activity of the living God within their lives, for they through their very words and actions are demonstrating that they have no need of God. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the LORD sits upon His throne in heaven and watches men and women pursue their own greatness, and pursue being greater and the greatest among others, and He withdraws His power, His glory, and perhaps even His presence because our greatness and the power of God are entirely juxtaposed and diametrically opposed to each other. In all reality, I would dare say that we must needs choose which one we desire and will seek after within our hearts and lives—either our own greatness and being greater, and even the greatest, or the power, the glory and the presence of God. It is absolutely impossible to experience and have both within our lives, for the two cannot coexist with each other within this life.

            With this being said, it is worth noting that while the eighteenth chapter would begin and open up with the disciples asking Jesus who the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was, the subject matter would shift and transition to Jesus speaking to them concerning humility, and the tremendous need for humility within their hearts and lives. Not only this, but you will also find the words which Jesus shared with His disciples transitioning even further to Him speaking unto them about offenses—and not only concerning offenses, but that offenses must needs come. While it was true that offenses were inevitable and that offenses must needs come—Jesus would emphatically declare and proclaim unto His disciples how it was better for that one who offended one of these little ones that a millstone by tied around their neck and they be cast into the midst of the sea. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for in conversation that began with a question concerning greatness we find Jesus shifting to speaking unto the disciples concerning offenses—and not only speaking unto them concerning offenses, but also speaking unto them concerning the tremendous danger of being the one who offended, and the one who committed the offenses. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading this particular passage of Scripture that it would also shift from offenses to being reconciled with our brother who has sinned against us. Not only this, but within this passage of Scripture we find Jesus providing us with three different means of being reconciled to our brother—and not only three different means of being reconciled to our brother, but also three different actions we must take to be reconciled to our brother.

            It is quite astonishing to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for immediately after Jesus spoke unto His disciples concerning offenses He would speak unto His disciples concerning three different steps they must take to be reconciled to their brother who has somehow wronged and offended them. Upon reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find that the first step to being reconciled to that brother or that sister who has somehow wronged and offended us is to go privately unto them and speak to them concerning the fault and offense they have committed against us. Regardless of whether the offense, the wrongdoing and the fault is real or perceived and imagined within our own mind Jesus instructed us to go unto that brother and/or that sister privately and tell them the fault which they have committed against us. If they receive our word and are willing to be reconciled to us then we have indeed and have in fact gained a brother and/or a sister. If, however, when we come unto them privately and present them with the matter of our hearts and minds, and they are unwilling to hear and listen to us we are to then bring with us two or three brothers and/or sisters that we might speak unto them concerning the wrongdoing, the fault and the offense that has been committed against us. There are certain times when speaking unto our brother and/or sister does not work in a private manner and fashion, however, when we bring two or three other believers and followers of Christ with us, it somehow seems to help with the process of reconciliation. With this being said, however, Jesus seemed to suggest that there would indeed be times when even bringing two or three of the brethren with us to speak to this particular individual cannot and will not work, and they will not hear or listen to us. Jesus acknowledged that there would be those times when our brother or sister will not hear us privately, and Jesus also acknowledged that there would be times when our brother and sister won’t even hear and listen to us in the company and presence of two or three witnesses—those who are also brethren and disciples. If this second attempt fails and produces no results then Jesus instructed His disciples to include the church in the particular subject matter at hand. With this being said, however, Jesus also acknowledged the fact that there would be times when our brother and/or our sister will not hear and listen to us in the company and presence of the church, and if this happens we are to consider them as a heathen and as an unbeliever.

            The more I think about the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative which was written by the apostle Matthew the more I can’t help but think about and consider how it directly ties together with the words which are found in the opening verses of the nineteenth chapter. If you consider the words and language which is found in the second half and latter portion of the eighteenth chapter you will find that not only did Jesus speak unto the disciples concerning reconciliation, but Jesus would also speak unto His disciples concerning forgiveness. I wrote how there is present within this passage of Scripture two of the greatest teachings within the kingdom of heaven—namely, humility, and forgiveness—however, I would also dare say that there is a third element that is found within this passage of Scripture, and that is reconciliation. With this being said, however, it is absolutely necessary that we realize and understand that none of these realities are even possible within our hearts and our lives if we are pursuing our own greatness and our own degree and measure of being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I would emphatically declare unto you who might be reading these words that if we are indeed and if we are inf act pursuing our own greatness in this life there is and there will be absolutely no room for us to have humility, for us to be reconciled to our brother and our sister, and even for forgiveness. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular subject matter, for it is absolutely necessary and imperative for our lives and how we conduct ourselves within this life.

            It’s actually quite interesting when reading the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for in a chapter that began with the disciples asking who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven—it would quickly shift to Jesus speaking unto them concerning offenses. What’s more, is that not only would this chapter shift and transition to Jesus speaking unto the disciples concerning offenses, but you will find the chapter shifting to two subject matters which are incredibly difficult and hard for many among us within our Christian circles. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we are somehow pursuing our own greatness, and if we are somehow pursuing being greater than others before and around us, we cannot and will not have any room or space within our hearts and our lives to be reconciled to our brother and/or our sister. What’s more, is I would dare say that if we spend and devote our time seeking to be great and greater than those before and around us we cannot and will not have any room for forgiveness of others when they have wronged us. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—there is not a doubt in my mind that when we pursue our own greatness, and when we pursue our own need to be great we have very little room within our hearts and our lives for forgiveness, and even for reconciliation. We would like to think that we can pursue our own greatness and that we can pursue being great among those who are before and around us, and yet forgiveness by its very nature requires us to humble ourselves and to lay aside our greatness. Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that forgiveness requires you to humble yourself—to lay aside whatever greatness you think you possess, and any pursuit in being great within this life—and to do so that you might be able to truly forgive someone else who might have wronged and offended you? Not only this, but even the words which Jesus spoke concerning offenses and going unto that brother who has sinned against us requires us to lay down and lay aside our greatness, for we cannot pursue our own greatness and at the same time seek reconciliation to and with our brother and/or our sister. It is absolutely impossible to think and consider that we can continue to pursue our greatness within this life and at the same time be reconciled unto our brother and our sister.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture—particularly and especially when reading the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the same gospel narrative—and I can’t help but be absolutely convinced that we cannot pursue our own greatness in this life and at the same time pursue forgiveness of another who has somehow wronged and/or offended us. What’s more, is that when we pursue our own greatness and our own desire of being great and greater than those around us we will have very little room within our hearts and lives to be reconciled to another who has wronged and offended you. Oh we must needs think about and consider this subject matter of greatness and pursuing being greater than those before and around us, for if we pursue our own greatness in this life we cannot and will not exercise the words which Jesus spoke concerning going unto our brother or our sister who has somehow wronged and offended us. So long as we continue to pursue our greatness—not only will we be unwilling to be reconciled to our brother and our sister who has somehow wronged and offended us, but we will also be unwilling to humble ourselves, admit that we have been the one who has done the wrongdoing and offense, and be reconciled to our brother or sister. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the pursuit of our own greatness can and will severely hinder and prevent our ability to be reconciled unto our brother and sister—regardless of whether or not we were the one who has done the offending and wrongdoing, or whether we have been on the receiving end of the wrongdoing or offense. What’s more, is I would dare say that the more we pursue our greatness the easier it can and will be for us to be the ones who are doing the offending, and the more we are the ones who are doing the wrongdoing.

            I am absolutely and completely convinced that as much as we would like to think that we can have greatness without consequence there is a great temptation to pursue our greatness at the expense of those who are before and around us. What’s more, is I would dare say that when we pursue our own greatness we will do so at any cost and will care very little for those we might hurt, those we might wrong, and those we might offend along the way. The more we pursue our greatness the more we can and will treat others as stepping blocks we will either step over, or step on to get to that next level we are pursuing within this life. The more we pursue our own greatness in this life, and the more we pursue being great and greater than others the more our ability to engage in fellowship, community and relationship will be sorely and severely limited, for we will always view others as a threat to our greatness, and can and will do whatever is necessary to maintain our greatness, and maintain our pursuit of greatness within this life. As we pursue our own greatness and seek to be great and greater than others in this life we can and will do so at the expense of relationship, which is perhaps one of the greatest reasons why I am convinced that the language of offense, the language of reconciliation, and the language of forgiveness is found within this passage of Scripture. We cannot pursue our own means and method of greatness and at the same enjoy healthy relationship, fellowship and community with others. Not only this, but I am absolutely convinced that when and as we pursue our own greatness and pursue being great and greater than others we can and will live in a place of isolation and loneliness, for we can and will have absolutely not room for relationship, for fellowship and community. Not only this, but we can and will have absolutely no room within our hearts and lives for any type of reconciliation and forgiveness—regardless of whether or not we were the one who committed the wrong and the offense, or whether we have had wrong and offense committed against us. Furthermore, I would dare say that if we pursue our own greatness we can and will view the actions of others—particularly and especially if they somehow threaten our greatness or our pursuit of greatness—we will more often than not be those who are guilty of the offenses and the wrongdoing, for it is highly possible that we view and perceive others as being threats to our pursuit of greatness and being great.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the language that is found within the eighteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for it ties right in to the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter. In fact, I would dare say that we cannot truly understand the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of this gospel narrative without and apart from considering the words which are found in the previous chapter. If and as you begin reading the opening verses of the nineteenth chapter you will find the Pharisees coming unto Jesus tempting Him concerning the matter of divorce and whether or not it was lawful to give a bill and writing of divorcement. I find it absolutely astounding and remarkable to read and consider the words within the nineteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for the words which are found within the opening verses deal with one of the toughest arenas to experience reconciliation in this life. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest arenas, and one of the greatest realms to experience forgiveness and reconciliation is in that place of divorce. This is especially true when a husband and wife have perhaps had issues and struggles for quite some time, and are completely and entirely at odds with each other. I have seen time and time again when perhaps one of—if not the greatest arena for offense, forgiveness and reconciliation to be manifested in this life is that of a man and woman who are pursuing divorce. There is not a doubt in my mind that divorce is perhaps one of the most volatile and ugliest quarrels and conflicts within this life. Not only this, but I am absolutely and completely convinced that one of the greatest detriments to any culture and society is that of divorce as men and women simply are unwilling to be reconciled to others, and/or cannot find that place of forgiveness and reconciliation.

            The Pharisees came unto Jesus tempting Him concerning divorce, and yet there is not a doubt in my mind that the language of divorce within this passage directly links together and ties in to the words we find within the eighteenth chapter. Oh I have heard countless stories of men and women who have been unwilling and unable to commit themselves to reconciliation, and who have been unwilling to commit themselves to forgiveness—particularly and especially as it pertains to marriage and divorce. I have watched countless marriages fall apart and unravel as men and women have been unwilling to forgive, and as they have been unwilling to be reconciled to and with one another. Oh it is true that there have been certain instances when both parties have sought counseling—perhaps even godly counseling—and have pursued intervention from an unbiased third party who can perhaps help them each see the error of their ways. At the end, however, the schism, the division, the chasm was too wide for either party to actually deal with, and as a direct result of this they have agree to move forward with the divorce. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for immediately preceding this particular discourse between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning whether or not divorce was legal and lawful we find Jesus speaking unto His disciples concerning greatness. Immediately prior to this exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees concerning divorce we find Jesus speaking of offenses, we find Jesus speaking of humility, we find Jesus speaking of reconciliation, and even forgiveness. In a chapter and passage that initially begins with the disciples asking Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven we find Jesus speaking unto them concerning the need for humility—and not only the need for humility, but also the need for reconciliation and forgiveness. It is absolutely remarkable and incredible to think about and consider the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for the words which are found in this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that we as the people of God have not only been called to not pursue our own greatness, but we have also been called to be those who are ready, willing and able to not only forgive, but also to be reconciled to those who are before and around us.

            The more I read the words found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely astounding and remarkable truth that those who seek to pursue, and those who seek to lay hold of their own greatness, and their own need to be greatest and greater in the company and presence of others have absolutely no room and no place within their hearts and lives for forgiveness and/or for reconciliation. What’s more, is that this particular reality can be seen and manifested within the final portion of the nineteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew. While we might not be able to state that the rich young ruler sought to be greater than others, we must needs acknowledge and face the awesome and powerful truth that in his amassing of much wealth and much possessions he did achieve a certain degree and measure of greatness within this life. We must needs realize and understand that for this rich young ruler he had perhaps spent a considerable amount of time striving, contending and working to lay hold of this great wealth and the many possessions he had within this life. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what made this rich young ruler so incredibly sad and sorrowful within the presence of Jesus—and not only within the presence of Jesus, but also as He departed and left the presence of Jesus—was that what Jesus asked him to give up was more than simply his possessions and his wealth.  I would dare say that what Jesus was asking this rich young ruler to give up was more than simply wealth, and was more than simply possessions, but was actually the degree, the measure and the level of greatness he had somehow amassed and achieved within this life.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within the nineteenth chapter of this particular gospel, and I find myself thinking and considering how this rich young ruler thought and believed that he could keep the commandments of God as well as his possessions and still inherit eternal life. This rich young ruler thought he could have greatness and an outward adherence to the law and still inherit and enter into eternal life. What Jesus presented unto this rich young ruler, however, was that if he truly wanted to inherit eternal life he needed to not only sell all he had—give up all his possessions—but also give to the poor. Only after this rich young ruler had sold all he had and given unto the poor could and would he be able to walk with and follow Jesus. It’s actually quite astounding and remarkable to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for this rich young ruler would be given the invitation to walk with and follow Jesus, and yet instead of walking with and following Jesus he would leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful. Pause for a moment and think about how incredibly tragic this truly is, for not only did this rich young ruler enter into the presence of Jesus asking what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life, but he was also given a clear and present invitation to walk with and follow Jesus. Within this dialogue and exchange between Jesus and the rich young ruler we find him initially asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and we find him being given the invitation and opportunity to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet he would actually leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful. What we must needs realize and understand concerning this rich young ruler is that the entire reason he left the presence of Jesus sorrowful was because he had much possessions, and undoubtedly he didn’t want to give them up. This rich young ruler undoubtedly had a great deal and a great amount of possessions within this life—and not only did those possessions give him great wealth, but I am sure they gave him great status, great prestige, and great reputation among those whom he would interact with in this life.

            I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I am absolutely and completely convinced that for this rich young ruler it wasn’t merely about an unwillingness to give up his possessions, but it was also about an unwillingness to give up the greatness that undoubtedly accompanied those possessions. This rich young ruler was perhaps a man of great affluence and influence, and here we have Jesus asking him to give all of that up—and not only give all of that up, but also to give to the poor. For the rich young ruler it wasn’t merely about that which he would give up, but also that which he would give unto others, for in the process of his giving up he would also give unto others. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering that what Jesus was inviting this rich young ruler to do was not only give up that which he had, but also to give up what he had that he might give unto the poor. Jesus was asking this rich young ruler to give up his greatness, to give up his status, to give up his prestige, and to give up that which he held on so tightly to that he might give unto the poor which were present before and all around him. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that what Jesus was asking this rich young ruler to give up was more than simply his possessions, but also the greatness that would be directly linked and connected to those possessions. Perhaps one of the greatest truths we must needs realize and understand is that there are many who equate greatness with how much wealth and how many possessions they have within this life. There are countless men and women among us who have equated greatness with how much they have been able to amass within this life, and the more they have the greater they are. The disciples asked Jesus who the greatest was in the kingdom of heaven, and in the case of the rich young ruler we are brought face to face with how the world defines greatness.

            One of the greatest lessons I can’t help but think about and consider when reading the words which are found within the nineteenth chapter as compared to the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter is that in the eighteenth chapter the disciples asked who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and in the nineteenth chapter we are brought face to face with one who would have been considered great—if  not among the greatest during those times. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture that in the nineteenth chapter of this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with how the world would define greatness, and how the world would define success. I am absolutely and completely convinced that what we find in the nineteenth chapter is a truly astonishing and remarkable picture of how the world would define great, and what the world would define as greatness. It’s interesting to read the words found in the eighteenth chapter of this gospel narrative and consider how the disciples asked who was greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and in the nineteenth chapter we are brought face to face with what the world would have considered to be great and greatness in the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find and what we read within this passage of Scripture is a truly astonishing and remarkable and powerful picture of how the world defines greatness, and what the world defines as great, for the world undoubtedly defines greatness by how many possessions you have, and how much wealth you have amassed unto and for yourself. This rich young ruler had many possessions, and he had kept all the commandments which Jesus had spoke unto him from his youth up, and yet Jesus would not only declare unto him that he lacked one thing, but Jesus would also declare unto him that if he wanted to be perfect he needed to sell all he had, needed to give unto the poor, and needed to come after and follow Him. That which Jesus asked this rich young ruler to give up was more than simply his possessions, but also to give up his greatness in the sight of others that He might walk with and follow that one who was truly great.

            THE CONTRAST BETWEEN GOODNESS AND GREATNESS! I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I can’t help but consider a stark and powerful contrast between those who consider themselves to be great, and those who consider themselves to be the greatest in this life, and the goodness of the one true and living God. I read the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that we see a clear and powerful display of the difference between the greatness of men, and the goodness of God. Not only this, but I would dare say that we see a clear and present disparity and difference between the greatness of this world as measured in earthly possessions and wealth and the greatness of Jesus. I am absolutely and completely convinced that this rich young ruler viewed his possessions as being greater than walking with and following Jesus—and not only did he view wealth and possessions as being greater than walking with and following Jesus, but He also viewed wealth and possessions as being greater than Jesus Himself. This rich young ruler was given an invitation to walk with and follow Jesus, and yet he would leave sorrowful because he had many possessions and much wealth, and was unwilling to give all of that up. This rich young ruler was given a great invitation to walk with and follow Jesus, and yet he was entirely and altogether unwilling to give up everything that he had that he might walk with and follow Jesus. Oh dear reader—there is a clear and present disparity that is found within this passage of Scripture, as what we find within this passage is a powerful discrepancy between the greatness this rich young ruler perceived as being found in his possessions and great wealth, and the greatness found in Jesus Christ, and the goodness of the Father.

            THE GREATNESS OF JESUS AND THE GOODNESS OF THE FATHER! I absolutely love the words which I find within this passage of Scripture, for the words which I find in this passage of Scripture not only centers on the greatness of Jesus the Christ as juxtaposed with the greatness of wealth and possessions. Not only this, but I am also convinced that what we find within this passage of Scripture is a powerful contrast between the goodness of God and the greatness this man found in his wealth and possessions. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for that which Jesus was inviting this rich young ruler to give up was more than simply wealth and possessions, but also the perceived greatness that was directly linked and associated to that. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you are brought face to face with the tremendous and incredible need to give up that which we perceive as great and that which we perceive as being greater and greatest within this life. In the eighteenth chapter of this gospel narrative we find the disciples asking concerning greatness in the kingdom of heaven, and yet in the very next chapter we find what the world would consider and perceive as being greatness and great. Undoubtedly the world places a great emphasis and a great value on wealth, possessions, and all the status, prestige, and reputation that comes as a direct result. I am absolutely and completely convinced that when we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus was asking this rich young ruler to give up that which the world considered great—and not only give it all up, but also give to the poor. That which Jesus asked and requested of this rich young ruler was to give up and give unto, and it was in the process of giving up and giving unto that he would then be able to walk with and follow Jesus. This rich young ruler was asked to give up everything that he had—and not only give up everything that he had, but also give unto those who were in need—and then he would be able to walk with and follow Jesus.

            The more I consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but think about and consider the fact that one of the greatest asks and demands Jesus makes of us within this life is to literally give up everything that we might walk with and follow Him. I am absolutely and completely convinced that we are being asked, and we have been asked to give up that which we perceive as being great, and have been asked to give up that which we might very well cling so tightly and so closely to. I read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that what Jesus asked and invited this rich young ruler to do was not merely give up the possessions and wealth he had, but in the process of giving up he would demonstrate the greatness of Jesus the Christ. Oh perhaps one of the single greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is could we be left with absolutely nothing and would Jesus still be enough. Could we literally give up or lose everything in this life, and in that place of being left with absolutely nothing would Jesus indeed be enough for us. The single greatest truth we must needs ask ourselves when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is whether or not we can give up everything we have in this life and if Jesus can and will be enough—and not only enough, but more than enough for us. One of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we can live in this life with absolutely nothing and whether or not Jesus can and will still be enough for us. We have a great need to ask ourselves within this life if we can give up everything and/or lose everything we have, and if Jesus can indeed and can in fact still be enough. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not Jesus can be more than enough for us within this life—even if it means having to give up and/or lose everything we have in this life.

            The narrative of the rich young ruler describes one who came unto Jesus calling him good master, and asking him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, and the conversation and dialogue would shift to the commandments he knew, and the commandments he had kept since his youth. Jesus would hear this man justify himself according to the commandments he kept, and yet Jesus—with full compassion and love for and toward this man—declared unto him that if he wanted to be perfect, he needed to sell everything he had, give to the poor, and then come after and follow Him. It is absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to this particular reality, for it forces us to acknowledge whether or not Jesus is indeed enough for us within this life. Can we indeed lose everything—even lose everything for the sake of Christ—and yet Jesus is still more than enough for us? Can we give up everything we have in this life and find that Jesus is still more than enough for all of our needs, and find that Jesus is anything and everything we need. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—if all you have left in this life is Jesus, and if all you have left in this world is walking with and following Jesus the Christ, would that be enough for you? If you lost everything on this very day as Job did when he lost everything but his life and his wife—could you still emphatically declare that though the LORD slays me, yet will we trust in Him? If you were to lose everything as Job did would you be able to emphatically declare—and not only declare, but also believe it when you do declare it—that the LORD gives, and the LORD takes away, but blessed be the name of the LORD? Job was a man who lost absolutely everything within this life save his life and his wife, and he was able to boldly and emphatically declare in the company and presence of his three friends that though the LORD slayed him, yet he would trust in Him. Oh how would you respond if tomorrow you lost absolutely everything you had? What would you do if you lost absolutely everything in a fire, or everything in a flood? How would you respond if tomorrow everything you had amassed, and everything you had acquired was stripped and removed from your life? Would you be able to say and believe within your heart that Jesus is indeed enough? Could you like Job emphatically declare that the LORD gives and the LORD takes away, and yet blessed be the name of the LORD?

            I can’t help but sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and be brought face to face with the absolutely astonishing and remarkable truth of whether or not Jesus is indeed and is in fact enough for us. If we were left with absolutely nothing in this life, and if the only thing we had in this life was our relationship with Jesus—would that be enough? If we were left with nothing in this life save a single copy of the word of God—would that be enough for us? If the only possession we had was a Bible—would that be enough for us? Please not that I am in no way declaring that you are going to lose everything tomorrow, but what I am speaking of, and what I am suggesting is whether or not you could lose everything and still declare that Jesus is enough for you. What I am speaking of in this life is whether or not you could lose everything you have and still find that Jesus is enough for you. Not only this, but the question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we would be willing to give up everything we have in this life that we might be left with nothing but Jesus. Oh I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the song which emphatically declare, “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” These are incredibly profound words, and words which when and as we sing them we ought not take lightly. It is an incredibly bold and powerful thing to sing before and sing unto the LORD declaring that He can take this world but give me Jesus. What’s more, is I am reminded of the words which are found in the old hymn—“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His fullness and grace.” Strong and powerful words, and words which we must needs be willing to confront within our hearts and lives, for we must needs be willing to acknowledge whether or not we are willing to turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face that the things of this world will grow strangely dim.

            The more I read and consider the words which surround the narrative of the rich young ruler the more I am brought face to face with the absolutely tremendous and incredible truth that this rich young ruler was confronted with the question of whether or not he could give up everything and whether Jesus would be enough for him. This rich young ruler wasn’t only asked to give up everything he had, and he wasn’t only asked to give to the poor, but he was asked to—from that place of having nothing left—to walk with and follow Jesus. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely incredible and tremendous this truly is, for it calls and draws our attention to whether or not we are willing to give up everything in this life that we might be left with nothing but Jesus and Him alone. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to give up everything we have in this life and everything we have thought was of value that we might be left with absolutely nothing but Jesus and Him alone. This rich young ruler was called and invited to give up all that he had, give to the poor, and then from that place of giving up and giving unto others would he then be properly positioned to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This rich young ruler was being invited into a place where he would be invited to give up everything he had and giving unto the poor that the poor might be taken care of and that he might walk with and follow Jesus. It’s worth noting and paying close and careful attention to the words in this passage of Scripture, for that which Jesus did with this rich young ruler was invite him into a place where he would be left with absolutely nothing left but Jesus Christ. This rich young ruler was invited into the place where he would have absolutely nothing left, and would from that place of having nothing would walk with and follow Jesus. WALKING WITH JUST IN THE PLACE OF NOTHING! WALKING WITH JESUS IN THE PLACE OF HAVING NOTHING! WALKING WITH JESUS IN THE PLACE OF GIVING UP EVERYTHING! FOLLOWING JESUS IN THE PLACE OF HAVING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LEFT IN THIS LIFE!

            I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for they bring us face to face with our own identification with the rich young ruler. One of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to give up everything we have in this life that we might walk with and follow Jesus. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to give up our pursuit of greatness within this life—regardless of whether it’s the pursuit of greatness in the kingdom of heaven which doesn’t even exist, or whether it’s greatness as it is defined in the world—and be left with nothing but the Lord Jesus Christ. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to lay down our pursuit of greatness, and whether or not we are willing to lay down our pursuit of being great and doing great things that we might be left with nothing by Jesus and Him alone. The disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus responded by placing a child before them in their midst. The rich young ruler came into the presence of Jesus having absolutely everything you could possibly want in this life, and yet Jesus told him that he still lacked one thing. What makes the narrative of the rich young ruler is that although he might have had everything he wanted in this life—according to the words of Jesus he didn’t have everything he needed. It’s worth noting that Jesus not only instructed us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, but also instructed us not to pursue after what we will wear, what we will eat, and what we will drink, for our heavenly Father knows exactly what we have need of. This rich young ruler might have had everything he wanted in this life—perhaps everything he even thought he needed—and yet the truth of the matter is that this rich young ruler lacked the most important and critical thin within his life. This rich young ruler had many possessions and had great wealth, and yet despite having all of that he was still left wanting in the sight and presence of Jesus.

            Oh I can’t help but wonder how many men and women in this life might have everything they think they need, and have everything they could ever possibly want, and yet they are missing that one thing which is the most necessary. I am absolutely and completely convinced there are countless men and women within this life who think and feel as though they have absolutely everything they could possibly want or need, and yet in the sight and presence of Jesus they are found wanting. Much like Belshazzar was weighed in the scales and found wanting, so these men and women are found wanting in the sight and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ as they have everything the world would consider great, and everything the world would consider necessary, and yet they are lacking that one thing that would grant them the freedom to truly walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. This rich young ruler had one thing in this life that would not only keep him from entering into and inheriting eternal life—and not only inheriting eternal life, but also walking with and following Jesus—and he was unwilling to give it up. This rich young ruler was told exactly what to do by the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet he was entirely and altogether unwilling to give it up. There was one thing this rich young ruler lacked, and there was one thing that was necessary within his life, and Jesus provided him with precisely what that was, and yet he was unwilling to do what Jesus asked. Perhaps the question we must needs ask ourselves is what is holding us back in this life, and what is keeping us from truly walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ fully and completely. What is the Lord Jesus asking us to give up in this life that we might be able to truly walk with and follow Him without anything holding us back and without any reservations? How we answer this question is entirely and altogether important, for it has the ability to dramatically and radically alter the trajectory and course of our lives. How we respond to this question can indeed and can in fact alter how we live our lives in this life—and not only how we live our lives here, but also how we experience what comes after this life.

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find myself encountering and coming face to face with the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Philippians. When Jesus spoke unto the rich young ruler He declared unto him that he lacked one thing, and that one thing was not only holding him back from inheriting and entering into eternal life, but was also keeping him from walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. This rich young ruler was informed that there was one thing he lacked in this life, and that was selling and giving up all he had that he might be able to give to the poor and be free from what would hold him back from walking with and following Jesus. Jesus recognized and understood that this young man’s possessions were keeping and holding him back from truly entering into eternal life, and Jesus invited this man to give up everything he had that he might live his life without any restrictions and limitations. Jesus invited this rich young ruler to give up that one thing that was left within his heart—that one thing that would keep him from truly entering into and inheriting eternal life. Jesus addressed the hook that was found deep within the heart and soul of this rich young ruler, and Jesus not only exposed it, but also invited him to extract and get rid of it. Jesus knew and understood what giving up all of his possessions would mean and do within the heart and soul of this rich young ruler, and He knew that his possessions were the one thing within his life that was keeping him from inheriting eternal life. This rich young ruler might very well have kept all the commandments from his youth up, and yet there was one thing he was missing that would enable him to walk with and follow Jesus. This rich young ruler thought and believed that he could have possessions and keep the commandments, and that both would be enough for him to enter into eternal life.

             It’s actually quite interesting to read the words which are found within this passage, for it almost seems this rich young ruler realized and recognized that there was something missing within his life. Despite having kept all the commandments from his youth onward, and despite having all his possessions, he undoubtedly realized that there was something missing. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about and consider the fact that in most cases—realizing and recognizing that there is something missing within your life typically places you in a good position to respond well to Christ. I would dare say that this rich young ruler—although he had much possessions was not satisfied with them. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if that which this rich young ruler struggled with was not so much the dissatisfaction that surrounded his possessions, but rather the actual need to give them up. I can’t help but wonder if this rich young ruler was somehow dissatisfied with his possessions, and somehow realized that even keeping the commandments from his youth up still left him wanting and feeling empty inside. When this rich young ruler came into the presence of Jesus he came from a place asking him what he needed to do to inherit eternal life—thus implying and asking whether or not what he was doing was enough. The simple fact that this rich young ruler asked Jesus what good thing he needed to do to inherit eternal life seems to suggest that he was either dissatisfied with his current situation—perhaps even his life—or simply realized that there was something missing. What makes this even more interesting is when you think about and consider the fact that this rich young ruler might very well have experienced both of these realities within his life—not only dissatisfied with his current situation and life, but also realizing there was something missing. Perhaps he came to Jesus trying to find that one thing he was missing as he couldn’t place his finger on it—despite how hard he would try. Oh it might be true that he tried understanding and discerning it himself, and yet no matter how hard he tried he was entirely and altogether unable to figure it out. Undoubtedly this rich young ruler came unto the Lord Jesus Christ thinking and hoping that Jesus would be able to show him what it was. With this being said, however, I would dare say this rich young ruler didn’t realize the bombshell that would be that thing he was missing within his life.

            RECOGNIZING SOMETHING IS MISSING, COMING UNTO JESUS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS MISSING, AND REALIZING THAT WHAT WAS MISSING IS MORE THAN YOU ARE WILLING TO DO! I bring this writing to a close calling and drawing your attention to the fact that this rich young ruler undoubtedly came to Jesus seeking to understand what was missing within his life—and might have even understood that it might simply be one thing. This rich young ruler came unto Jesus asking what good he must needs do to inherit eternal life, and it should be noted that even his question seemed to suggest the presence—or even absence—of one thing within his life. This rich young ruler came unto Jesus hoping to find what was still missing within his life, and hoping to find out what was still needed, and yet I am convinced he wasn’t prepared for what Jesus would actually reveal was that missing piece, and that which was still needed. This rich young ruler thought that what was missing within his life was something slightly less demanding and something that was slightly less intense as selling everything he had and giving to the poor, and even though Jesus told him what that missing piece was, he determined within himself that it was too much to give. This rich young ruler might have entered into the presence of Jesus thinking about and considering what might be missing within his life, and yet I firmly believe he wasn’t prepared for what was actually missing. Jesus would reveal unto him that one thing he lacked, and that one thing he lacked would prove to be too much for him to handle and too much for him to give up. This rich young ruler would hear directly from the mouth and lips of Jesus what was missing from his life and what was needed, and yet when he heard it, he would not only leave the presence of Jesus, but would leave the presence of Jesus sorrowful. Oh we must needs realize and understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture, for it calls us to directly confront what might be missing within our hearts and lives, and whether or not we are willing to give up that we might truly be able to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it is with this in mind I leave you with the words the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian saints which are found in the third chapter of this New Testament epistle:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: BUT THIS ONE THING I DO, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:7-16).

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