Now the rubber starts hitting the road even more violently. Not that it’s easy at all to deal with all the internal stuff we’re been addressing for most of these previous devotionals, but let’s face it: At some point, all that inner conviction has to begin manifesting itself as outward fruit. As Jesus’ half-brother James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:14-17). Or, even more pointedly:
And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions (Matthew 19:16-22, ESV).
It’s easy to distance ourselves from this story. After all, to put it 2012 terms, we’re part of the 99 percent, right? We’re not really rich. Many of us are even having troubles meeting our bills on a day-to-day basis.
But consider this: Someday, hopefully, all these little devotional will be compiled into a nice little book. And the money you’d spend on that one book would be more than the daily income of more than a third of the world’s population. Still feeling like a 99-percenter?
Ultimately, it’s not about what we have or don’t have. One can be genuinely poor and still greedy. It’s about our incessant need to have it. We want to possess and be possessed, and those are our biggest problems. Are we willing to put everything we have at Jesus’ disposal—or, if called upon like the rich young ruler, dispose of it altogether in order to follow him in the way He calls us to?
I think we know the answer to that one, if we’re honest. In fact, I think the real “1-percenters” are those who can say yes and mean it. And yet, Jesus does call every one of us to lay down our possessions—or more specifically, our possessing. What do we hang on to more than Jesus—and for that matter, than the people He puts in front of us? It’s time for us to release our grips.
“Then Peter said to him, ‘Look, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?’ Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life’ ” (Matthew 19:27-29).
God is not a God of either/or, but a God of both/and—if we’re willing to surrender all of our tiny little kingdoms and properties and belongings to Him in the first place. He must rule over them and determined how they’re used, not us. As John Piper says in Desiring God, “It is better to love than to live in luxury!” Are we willing to test that?
Lay It Down Today
I can’t tell you what to do here. But again, if you’re honest with yourself and are willing to let God address this area of your life, you’re going to come up with things to lay down in a hurry. So, really, that’s your assignment. Spend time, just you and God. Ask Him to point out those things that you’ve let posses you. Scream and cry about having to let them go, if you must, but resolve to follow Jesus, no matter what the temporary cost. Trust that He will provide what you truly need—all the while remembering that He may not be providing it only for you.