by Jordan McKenzie
Matthew 19:21: Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”
Really? Go and sell EVERYTHING you have and follow me? That’s what Jesus requires of us? Everything? That seems a little demanding!
For much of my life, that was my reaction to this verse. I got the basic point of the passage. Or so I thought. The point was that wealth holds us back because our focus should be on Jesus. So we need to make sure we’re putting Jesus first ahead of our money. That made sense, but the business about selling everything you had seemed a little bit extreme.
Several years ago when studying this passage I had a sort of epiphany about it. I realized that this story was about one man. His obstacle was his wealth. That’s clear. That was what kept him from following Jesus. But how could I apply this verse when wealth wasn’t an issue for me? How could apply it if I were poor and lacked material riches? Perhaps I could just skip over this verse?
Then I realized that this story might be about more than just money and what we do with our possessions. Maybe it’s making a deeper point that we all have things that keep us from following Jesus fully. The question that comes to my mind now is what Jesus would say to me if I asked the same question as the rich young ruler. What are the things that are keeping me from totally following Jesus?
I can ask you the same question. What are the things keeping you from totally following Jesus? Your comfort? Your pride? Your wealth? Your bitterness about your past? Your feelings of insecurity? Your partisan politics?
So, what’s holding you back?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the example of Jesus. Help me to follow him in all aspects and areas of my life. Take away anything that keeps me from following him. Amen.