What Would You Do For The Sake Of The Kingdom?
As the final words of Jesus slipped off His tongue, the Son of God could perceive the deep sorrow felt by the young man standing before him. With great interest in eternal life, the young man had sought Jesus to find the true meaning of life. He received an answer he could never have imagined: "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." (Luke 18:22) Because of his great riches, his heart was greatly grieved and he left Jesus.
The heart of Jesus was also grieved as He watched a man with all the riches of earth turn away from all the wealth of heaven. Jesus said, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:24,25) The problem was not the riches but the heart of the man who loved the prosperity of this world more than God.
Those standing by were amazed at the answer of Jesus. They thought it impossible for any man to be saved if the rich young ruler could not be allowed to keep his riches. Again, they did not understand the answer of Jesus. The problem with the young man was that he was willing to serve God as long as he did not have to give anything up or lose anything. To many in the world, this is too high a price to pay for salvation. Jesus replied, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." (Luke 18:27)
The young ruler stood in contrast to those saints of God who had given up everything for the crown of life. Jesus explained in verse 29 that many had left their homes, their parents, their brothers, their wives and their children "for the sake of the kingdom of God." The writer of Hebrews proclaimed the faith of those who "were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented." (11:35-37) How can one compare giving up wealth and fame with those who have given up all "for the sake of the kingdom of God"?
On many occasions today, people refuse to give up what they enjoy and desire to serve God. They find themselves in the same place as the rich young ruler. They are asked to give up more than they can bear and so refuse to do so. Because we live in a society of comforts, living for Christ must be comfortable also. "I will serve God as long as I do not have to give up my lifestyle or my job or my business or my wife or my husband or ..." and the list goes on and on.
Jesus died on a cross. He died miserable, in great pain, in tremendous agony and in torture beyond comprehension. The Son of God, the Creator, the I AM, the Mighty Counselor, Immanuel, the Christ died for me. How can I compare what I may have to give up to serve Him with what He gave up to serve me in death? How can my love be greater than His love? How can my sacrifice be more than what He sacrificed? How can I dare to suppose that I will not have to suffer anything in this life to gain a crown of life that was purchased with a crown of thorns?
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26) What can I possibly hope to gain by all the things I can have on this earth to what is promised in eternal life? When all is said and done, nothing compares!
By Kent Heaton
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