Be Careful What I Ask

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”    Mark 10:17 (HCSB)

“Good Teacher, what must I do to keep from just dying? I want to get to heaven and live forever.”

It’s interesting to me that Luke calls this man a ruler and Matthew calls him young. The ever efficient Mark identifies him as just a man. I’m going to go out on my usual limb and speculate that most of us have never asked this question. We don’t think about dying much. We try hard not to, I think. But today, let’s come together and accept that we all will die – unless Jesus comes back sooner. That would still leave the question of: What do I do to make sure I end up in heaven?

I have a birthday coming up this month. I love birthdays. I love birthday celebrations. I like getting unexpected presents. I’m comfortable with all that because I love giving birthday presents. So if I get a gift for my birthday, I know I will be giving that person something on their birthday and I will try to make sure it is a thoughtful, loving gift that will convey how much I love and care about them.

Jesus’ gift of eternal life isn’t something that I can ever balance on the scales of gift giving. The price is more than I can ever repay. Jesus’ conversation with this man isn’t about paying a price for the gift of eternal life. It is about acknowledging that he is given this free gift even now through no payment of his own.

That “messes” with the balance scales that I have in my own mind. I used to think this passage about the man selling all he owned was about sacrificing for God. A sort of “pay back” for His gift of eternal life. I don’t believe that is what Jesus is doing at all. Jesus is telling the man to get rid of everything that is more important to him than his relationship with God.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”    Exodus 20:4-5 (NLT, my emphasis)

What is more important to me than my LORD? Is it my family? My children? My spouse? Is it my job? My reputation? Is it my wealth? My security? Is there anything in my life that if God asked me to leave it behind and go or do something for Him, would I turn away in sadness like the man? If you quickly said, “No, there is nothing.” be careful, dear friend, because God may test your answer for truth.

“Are you proud of that big house and those two cars, Jody?” – I found out I can live without them if I have Jesus.

“Are you proud of your reputation as a nurse, Jody?” – I found out I can live through a malpractice suit, because what Jesus thinks of me is all that counts.

“Are your children living out your dreams or are they following Me?” – I found abundant life even through the death of my child but I freely admit this was my greatest struggle but it was also God’s greatest work in my life. And I now trust Him more when I see my children and grandchildren struggle, knowing that He loves them so much more than I do and will bring them through.

Truly I tell you that allowing Jesus to answer not necessarily the question I ask but the one that needs answering is a life changing moment and will bring with it a crossroad. As Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

“Yes,” Jesus replied,“and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.”     Mark 10:29-30 (NLT)

Great reward – along with persecution. All is “good” because my good Teacher is there with me every step of the way. Step of faith to trust Him and give to Him what means the most to me so I can give Him both of my hands and my heart to hold.

LORD, I Give You My Heart written by Rueben Morgan, sung by Hillsong Worship Team


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