A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this he said to him, “you still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid yet again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Matthew 13:44
What is your response to Jesus’ invitation to embrace the kingdom of heaven and follow him?
I have always found it rather unnerving to read these two texts side-by-side. The contrast could not be sharper. In the first, Jesus offers the wealthy young ruler treasure in heaven. He invites him into the kingdom of God as a fully submitted follower of Jesus. He offers him freedom, joy and the opportunity to begin his own journey with Jesus as a faithful steward. When this wealthy man compared his own riches with the kingdom that Jesus was offering, he valued what he had as so precious that he declined Jesus’ offer. Matthew tells us that as result, “he went away sad.” No doubt. How else could a person feel having refused the riches of heaven for the temporal trappings of earthly wealth?
How striking it is to move from this story immediately to Jesus’ parable about the man who is out plowing a field when he happened upon a treasure whose value was beyond his wildest dreams. This treasure was so precious to him that he immediately went and did the exact thing that the rich young ruler refused to do. He “sold everything he had” so that he could purchase that field and realize that treasure for himself.
This is the decision that faces us every day. Being a one-kingdom steward requires nothing less than the total surrender of everything in life to Jesus Christ. Why would we do such a thing? Because knowing him, following him, and serving him is of inestimable value. When we embrace our call to be citizens of the kingdom of God, the things of this world have no hold on us. We would gladly turn over all of our life to him for the opportunity to know that one incredible treasure.
When you look at your life, your values, the decisions you make regarding the things of this world, do they bear witness to the first story or the second? Sadness or joy, one of the two will mark our lives today as a direct result of how we answer that question.
In both stories we have the idea of ‘selling everything you have.’ What would it look like in your life, in your heart to ‘sell everything you have’ in order to follow Jesus, to claim for yourself the treasure of heaven he offers? Take the challenge by completing this sentence:
Jesus, today I commit to sell everything I have and follow you. For me that means I will:
Take my life, and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move, At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be, Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing, Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be, Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use, Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own; It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour, At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be, Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.