Life: God's Renewable resource
one thing you lack
by Dianne Sargent
The young man wanted something he did not have, something he thought he desperately needed, but he was not willing to release his grasp on what he held to seize what Jesus offered.
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HE REALLY DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE IT, and he just couldn’t get a handle on it. Hunger gnawed at his insides and enveloped his entire being. It just never seemed to go away. He denied himself no pleasure or luxury; yet the frustration and sense of hopelessness remained. Nothing satisfied his cravings, especially not money or possessions. He had plenty of those things. He had even risen to a position of authority and leadership, and yet he wanted more . . . what?
A new teacher had come to town, causing quite a stir among the religious leaders and prominent men of the city. It was said He claimed to know the way to eternal life. For the most part, His followers were not wealthy, and yet they seemed to be contented. He had given them purpose and meaning for their lives and promised them eternal life in heaven with Him when they died. Maybe that was what he was looking for. He certainly had been successful as far as other men were concerned, but purpose and meaning for his life as well as eternal life . . . well, that was certainly worth checking into.
Today was the day. He would ask Jesus what he needed to do in order to gain eternal life. Surely he could do something—some act of service, or some cause he could support to satisfy His demands. He had kept the Law, even from childhood, and was well respected for one so young.
As he drew near to Jesus, a sense of urgency overcame him, and he began to run. Running up to Jesus, the young man knelt before Him and asked, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “You know the commandments: do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not bear false witness, and honor your father and mother.”
Astonished, the young man replied that he had done these things his entire life. Lovingly, Jesus looked into the heart of the young man and said, “Yet you lack one thing. Go sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.” The young man could not believe his ears. Give away everything he had inherited from his father, the fruit of years of labor, to those who had nothing and would never have anything? That was unheard of! As the realization of what Jesus was asking settled into his mind, the young man dropped his head and slowly turned and headed toward his home. The gnawing hunger remained, but he just could not do what Jesus had asked.
The young man wanted something he did not have, something he thought he desperately needed, but he was not willing to release his grasp on what he held to seize what Jesus offered. One thing stood in the way, and everything else paled by comparison. The one thing he lacked mattered the most.
Preachers proclaim it; professors teach it; authors write about it, yet so many of us fail to incorporate it into our lives. Like the rich young man in Mark 10, we want that gnawing feeling to go away—that deep hunger that keeps our soul from being completely satisfied. But too often we’re not willing to pay the price to make that happen. We, too, lack the one thing that matters most.
Jesus did not ask the young man to make a list of the most important things in his life, making sure to put Him at the top of the list. No. Jesus asked him to get rid of everything he possessed to follow Him. Jesus asked him to lay aside his identity, to shed all ties to the earthly, the temporal, and become His disciple, to take on the identity of Christ. It wasn’t a list of priorities; it was all or nothing.
While this particular individual turned away sorrowful, at a later date, believers in Macedonia were able to do what Jesus had asked this young man to do. They freely laid aside all claims to earthly possessions and willingly gave of their meager means to meet the needs of others less fortunate. Paul, referring to the churches in Macedonia, said that “. . . in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Corinthians 8:2-5, ESV).
What makes a person able to give to others when doing so causes deprivation? What causes the joy that comes from sharing with those in need when you don’t even have enough for yourself? How can you look beyond the temporal to the eternal, from the earthly to the heavenly? Those Christians in Macedonia knew the answer—they gave themselves first to the Lord. What the rich young man in Mark 10 failed to understand was the need to completely surrender his own identity to the identity of Christ; to become totally His. Jesus did not need that young man’s money or possessions. Jesus is the Creator and God of all the earth. What did that young man have that Jesus could possibly want or need? Yet, Jesus had everything the young man needed and earnestly craved. But the way was too hard, the price too steep.
A Personal Question
What identifies you? Are you still holding on to the things of this world while your soul craves the eternal? Can you identify with the young man in Mark 10 or with the believers in 2 Corinthians? One went away sorrowful for he had great possessions while the believers in Macedonia rejoiced in the goodness of God amid abject poverty, willingly giving to others. When you give Jesus the temporal, He willingly gives you the eternal. That decision should be a no-brainer!
Letting go of the temporal and focusing on the eternal is the deepest meaning of stewardship. Many people equate stewardship with paying their tithe faithfully. While tithing is an essential part of the equation, stewardship goes far beyond giving God one tenth of what you earn.
If Jesus had asked the rich young man to give one tenth of his possessions to the poor, I’m sure he would not have considered that too high a price to pay. But Jesus asked for the whole person. Jesus wanted all back then, and He still wants all today. Until He has your all, you still lack one thing.
Do you struggle to keep Christ at the top of your list? Make it easy on yourself. Throw the list away. Give yourself to God, and let Him give back to you out of the abundance of His riches in glory. The one thing you lack still matters the most.