One of our teenaged granddaughters spent a few days with us recently. She came loaded with gift cards she’d received from Christmas. We spent a day shopping and she had a day of bliss. But even with a store full of a teen’s heart’s desires, the math had to be figured. How much of the store could she really take home? There were subtractions, additions, and multiplications of shopping-carted piles. There was, “here, hold this,” and “that can go,” and “I have to get this’s.”
Excruciating decisions divided what she loved best from what didn’t make the cut.
For the most part, she found all of it a delicious agony.
While I watched and bemoaned my long-ago-days when basically everything looked better on than it did hanging, I had time to watch people. It doesn’t take much observation to connect what’s important to people with what lines their cart.
It made me wonder about myself and what lines my heart?
The Bible tells of a man who ran to Jesus and asked Him a question. Wealthy and powerful, he pretty much had it all. We know him as the rich young ruler.
“Good Teacher,” he asked kneeling before Jesus, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 ESV)
It’s the wrong question because it assumes the wrong person is in charge.
A little bit like a gift card, held out to Jesus. The young man was ready to spend what he could to obtain heaven. But, he was shopping with the wrong currency and with a faulty premise.
Eternal life is not for sale, regardless of money, clout or possessions. It cannot be bought nor earned. It is an unmerited gift.
And the crux of the matter was not what he could DO, but what he needed to lay down.
The rich young ruler had done his best to obey the commandments, but he knew he’d not yet reached the mark of enough. And just where is that line? This is the question of many people. How? What? Where?
Although the young man’s pockets were full, and his piety commendable, he was spiritually bankrupt. As we all are without Jesus.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
Jesus wanted to inhabit the throne of his life, to be His only God.
“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.’” (Mark 10:21 NKJV)
And inside the young man’s heart, a war of loyalties and allegiance fought for the most important and costly prize.
But, what struck me as I read this story again, was the beginning of this verse in Mark 10:21, “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” (NKJV)
Jesus truly saw him, and loved him anyway. “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” Mark 10:21 NKJV Click To Tweet
Jesus looked into the rich young ruler’s heart and mind. He knew the conflict of surrender. He knows ours too, and He loves us anyway.
The rich young ruler came to a fork in the road, and he had to recognize what truly owned his heart.
Even after salvation, we struggle with what owns our heart.
Stuff gets into my life like an overflowing shopping cart that at times feel so hard to let go. I toss in approval, comfort, control, and acknowledgment, things that do not last. Sometimes health, job, recognition, or success may fight for top spot.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21 ESV)
Whatever we hold above, whatever we love more, is where our treasure lies.
He invites us to lay down the rags of what we think is important to embrace what’s most valuable.
The young man, sadly walked away from Jesus because he wasn’t willing to give up something temporary to embrace the eternal. Whatever we hold above, whatever we love more, is where our treasure lies. Click To Tweet
Outside the door of the dressing room, a confused heap of discarded clothing fills the cart. My granddaughter, in the throes of a delicious agony, gives an update from inside accompanied by a rejected shirt flung over the cubicle’s top.
As I untangle the reject piles and replace them on hangers, I wonder if the rich young ruler ever changed His mind, if he returned and gave up everything for Jesus. I hope so.
And Jesus looks at us and loves us. It’s a wonderful thought.