The story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22) is just a few verses but the point is clear. That man needed to give up all his possessions and then he could follow Jesus. He couldn’t bring himself to do it and he sadly walked away. He gave up Jesus for stuff instead of the other way around!
Walking with Jesus doesn’t always require selling everything you have or joining a monastery. God gives us good things because He wants to bless us. But when we choose to love the gift more than the Giver we put distance between us and God.
For Abraham it was more than his possessions that God required. He asked Abraham to give up his beloved son for whom he’d waited for many years. But when it came down to the last minute, God didn’t really want Abraham to sacrifice his son, He only wanted to be sure that Abraham was willing to truly put God first no matter what.
For us it may be possessions, relationships, talents, reputation, or position. Any of those can become too important and replace God in our hearts. Didn’t all of those come from God in the first place? But He never intended His gifts to become our idols.
Are there things in your life that have come between you and God? How do you know for sure? If I were to ask you “what would be difficult to part with if God were to ask you to do so today?” what would you answer? If something comes to mind perhaps it is the thing that is between you and God. It could be that nothing comes to mind. Or it could be that what He asks of you is difficult but you know you would do it anyway. Or it could be the stumbling block that keeps you from truly following Christ with all your heart.
Here is part of the prayer that appears at the end of chapter two in A.W. Tozer’s book The Pursuit of God. It is a powerful example of desiring to give God His rightful place.
“Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding. And I do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.”
I choose to pray that prayer today. Will you?