I think one of the saddest verses in the Bible comes from Matthew 19.
A young man has asked Jesus what he must do to get everlasting life. Jesus tells him he must obey the commandments, and being an upstanding and good man, the young man answers that he has done this since he was a youth. Jesus then tells the man he must sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow Him.
“But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.” (Matthew 19:22 NLT)
Heartbreaking words. He is ready to pursue Jesus and the everlasting life He offers. But when it comes to walking away from it all to follow Jesus, he just can’t do it. He would rather walk away than give up his possessions.
Because that’s what Jesus was really talking about. The follow part.
It’s not that Jesus was against the man owning stuff. What He wanted to discover was whether or not he was willing to give it up for the greater thing: following Him.
A lot of Christians who read this passage may say, “Well, I would never do that. I would gladly give up everything for Jesus.” They say, “Nothing could keep me from Jesus.”
That’s easy to say. But what if Jesus wasn’t talking about some young man’s possessions from the 1st century? What if He was asking you, “Are you willing to give up what matters most to you for the greater thing I am offering?”
You see, we get comfortable with things and don’t want to exchange what we know for an unknown. That was part of this young man’s problem. It wasn’t that He didn’t love God. He did. He’d obeyed the law of God since childhood. He was probably an upstanding member of his community. He really wanted the everlasting life Jesus was talking about.
But when it came down to giving up what he knew and was comfortable with (his possessions) for something unknown and uncertain (following Jesus), he just couldn’t do it. He walked away from it all.
Jesus says to us daily, “Follow Me.” He says, “Go, give up _______________ and follow Me.” Fill in that blank. What thing–what person–what relationship–what position–what–is it that keeps you from fully going where Jesus calls? What would cause you to walk away sad, because you just aren’t ready or willing to give up that thing you know and love for whatever greater thing Jesus is calling you toward?
A position that gives you status but steals your soul?
A relationship that is enjoyable but unhealthy?
A possession that takes attention from the ones you love?
A house? A car? A job? A phone? A game? A friend?
You name it. If it’s keeping you from going where Jesus calls, it’s time to give it up.
Maybe it’s a good thing that distracts you from following Him. Maybe you have had the same circle of friends for years, and God is challenging you to meet new people so you can introduce them to Him. Maybe you’ve lived in the same community for awhile, but have never opened your house to your neighbors. Maybe you earn a good living, but have never given away as much as you know you could.
Whatever it is that fills in that blank, it’s time to give it up.
Never let it be said of you that you walked away sad from the greatest words you could ever hear: “And then, follow Me.”