It wasn’t until I gave up everything in my life that I gained everything in my life. That’s a pretty tough statement to make. In life, as a believer, as a follower of Jesus, or even as an unbeliever…….we often are trying to live life on our terms and wonder why the empty place is in our heart. We wonder why we are walking around still missing something. Often, intentionally, we are trying to “fill a hole” with many things. Money, possessions, following the rules, being a “good” person, helping others…..yet we know deep down that a “hole” still remains….something is missing.
Mark 10:19-22 (TNIV)
19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
We often live our lives in a cloud of self-absorbing achievements…searching for joy, peace and true fulfillment. I think that often, if we are not careful, that our achievements, both in stuff as well as achievements in what we do in life, make us feel “safe”. Our lives become rather “static” and predictable. As a follower of Christ, our lives should be dynamic and risky, meaning that we put our trust in Jesus rather than ourselves. The funny thing is, in living out this dynamic and risky life in Christ, we often find true fulfillment in our surrender to Him and that hole becomes filled with joy and peace.
In this story out of Mark, Jesus is approached by a rich young man and asked how he can attain eternal life. Jesus reminds him of the commandments. The young man declares, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”. But Jesus knows his heart and obviously there is still a hole there that remains…something is missing. We also know this because the rich young man is asking Jesus this question. He himself knows that something is missing.
This young man obviously felt pretty comfortable in his achievements and “stuff”….but what was missing? Why would he ask Jesus this question? Look closely……Jesus answered this man in the context of his lifestyle by mentioning the commandments. I believe that Jesus’ intention was to show that the law has a much deeper meaning than just a bunch of rules to be kept. It is certainly a matter of our heart and the condition of our heart rather than knowledge and simply obeying rules. In truth, when our heart is right….the fruit of that attitude is that all these “rules” are kept….but…..keeping all these rules doesn’t make our heart “right”.
The truth is, we CANNOT attain eternal life on our own merit, no matter how many rules we obey, how much stuff we attain, or what we achieve. We can only achieve eternal life by our total surrender to God, indeed to Jesus, and by His grace.
Instead of trying to achieve eternal life and peace in YOUR life by “achievements” (works), come to Jesus. When we surrender to Him…..we find freedom from the chains of stuff, things and achievements. They no longer “define” us. We find a freedom that is fulfilling in our relationship with Him as well as in our relationships with others.
Again, when we lose our life we truly gain our life, when we choose to be last we end up being first. It’s funny that as we surrender to Jesus all that we have (Jesus tells this man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”), what He is saying is to change his focus and heart.
This man unfortunately could not do this, was sad, and continued on with this hole in his heart.
Here is how he could have gained back his “life” and been “first”: By doing as Jesus said, and truly doing it from his heart, this man’s heart would change and no longer would these things be his focus, but Jesus would be his focus. Indeed, in this change of heart, I believe that he would have still achieved much and possibly “riches”……however, now they are not what fills him….Jesus is what fills him. Does that make sense?
What is it that is keeping you from surrendering your life to Jesus? Is it stuff? is it achievement? is it unforgiveness? Is there anything that you would be unwilling to give up in order live eternally with God?
Fill your heart with Jesus and gain the freedom to live life in a dynamic way! Gain eternal life and you will be able to live your life to the fullest. Surrender is the key. Lose your life in order to truly gain it!