I am currently reading through Matthew and this morning I was in chapters 19 and 20. Normally I read more than two chapters each morning, but I have been stuck reflecting on sacrifice…Jesus’ and mine.
In chapter 19, verses 16-27, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who wants to know what he has to do to get eternal life. Jesus responds by telling the man to listen to God, “don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” The man responds, “I’ve done all that. Whats left?” “Jesus replied, ‘go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.'” Upon hearing this, the man left defeated, because he wasn’t willing to give up everything.
In chapter 19, verses 28-30, Jesus states, “[…] In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields – whatever – because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”
These verses in particular hit me in the gut! What am I sacrificing for God? I have a home, family, “fields” (a job and source of income)…all the necessities of life. I am not a missionary or in full time ministry, devoting 100% of my life to God’s kingdom. I have watched friends struggle to make ends meet because they have done these things…and I feel guilty because I live comfortably.
God’s calling on each of our lives is not the same. Not everyone is a missionary, not everyone is a Pastor, not everyone has the ability to be in full time ministry. What matters here is that we each use the life we’ve been blessed with in a manner that serves God and others.
As the “story” continues through chapter 20, Jesus tells His disciples of His pending death, “Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crusifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive.” Their response? They start arguing over who will be the greatest in heaven!!! If I were Jesus, I’d be livid! Jesus asks, “Are you capable of drinking the cup that I’m about to drink?” and continues, “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage.”
So…I don’t have to sell my home to follow Jesus, but I do need to use it to serve others. I don’t need to give up my family to follow Jesus, but I do need to serve them as Jesus would. I don’t need to give up my job to follow Jesus, but I do need to be the light of Christ in my workplace. These chapters have been convicting for me because, even though God is not calling me to sell off everything, I do not use my time as wisely as I should in service to Christ. BUT…that’s the beautiful thing about Christ and His Word…it is not condemning, but instead helpful to bring to light ways in which we can grow into maturity and relationship with Christ. After reading these chapters, I will move forward with a greater awareness of how I am using my time. I will not always get it right, but God knows the heart and He will help me along the way…I only have to be willing to allow Him. How are you spending your time?