I used to read the account of the Rich Young Ruler in the gospels with much pride. This account, in Matthew 19: 16-30, tells of a rich young ruler who was asking Jesus what he must do to be saved. Jesus replies in Matthew 19:21–22: “Go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.” The scripture goes on to say, “That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”
I used to think, “What an idiot! This young guy would rather hold on to his riches than follow Christ? I’m glad I’m not like that!” You see, I thought that I was above riches keeping me from following Jesus. As a matter of fact, I didn’t think that I was rich. As the old song goes, “I am a man of means by no means.” At least this is what I thought, until it was Jesus asking me to “sell everything and follow Him.”
I didn't know how much I had, because I took so much of it for granted. I took the comforts of life for granted. I took running water and food for granted. I took my job, my house, material goods, technology, and all the other “basic” luxuries that I have for granted.
When God led my wife and me to sell our home and belongings and quit our jobs and follow him to Haiti, I had a staggering and sobering realization; “I am that idiot.” As it turns out, I am rich. It’s not just that I am rich. It’s that I would rather, by default and in my sinfulness, hold on tight to my “many things,” rather than follow Jesus.
Thank God that He empowers us to follow and obey despite of ourselves and even when we do not obey, God is faithful. Having sold our possessions and set up our move to Haiti, we have discovered and experienced that what Jesus has told us is true: “A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15)." Our lives do not consist of what we have or do not have. Nor do they consist of what we do or do not do. We find our lives hidden in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4). Yes! Even we idiots find our lives in Him.
Peterson, E. H. (2002). The Message : The Bible in contemporary language (Mt 19:21–22). Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress.