“If he can’t get into heaven, who can??” the disciples ask after a particularly traumatizing incident. A very wealthy and prosperous business man had come to Jesus asking “What next?” He had amassed a great deal of fortune and had followed the commandments to a T. “But I’m still lacking something,” he says. “What else can I do?”
To all of our horror Jesus responds “If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The man went away grieving, no doubt I would too. And Christians everywhere cry, “We’re meant to be poor!! Sell it all off! Follow Jesus!”
Jesus doesn’t tell everyone in the bible to sell off everything they own. In fact, he ONLY tells this man to do it. This one man who has spent most of his life in pursuit of financial prosperity and abundance. And then Jesus tells him to scrap the whole bit and follow him, and we all freak out.
But here’s the thing about this little passage: it’s personal. Jesus loves him and sees the thing this man needs most in the world. He sees what this man is lacking, and what, after years of pursing wealth and wellbeing this man still needs: To give up his wealth. To follow Jesus.
This isn’t the first time God has asked someone to give up their dreams: Remember when Abraham wanted children more than anything in the world? Oh, and then remember how Abraham finally is granted a child and then God asks him to kill his son? That’s rough. But obviously God isn’t telling us to all go out and kill our children, to sacrifice them to God. And he certainly isn’t asking all of us to give up our wealth and be poor.
He’s telling us that the thing we want most in all the world, is the thing we should give up. Because whatever we’re putting first is the thing that’s coming between ourselves and God.
If we’re being perfectly honest, my dream is to grow the influence of Over The Moon Magazine to such an extent that billions of women are influenced and inspired by its message. That together we start a revolution of joy, and hurl it through the world with the words on these pages, and the voices on our podcasts and (soon to be coming) events. And I want this dream pretty badly. In fact, I’ve been known to be quite the workaholic about it.
So if I was the rich man and I came to Jesus asking, “What do I lack? What do I, Elle Griffin, need to be the best possible person I could be?” I know Jesus would get personal: “Surrender your business,” he’d say. “Give me your dreams.”
Ouch. Such a big ouch. Even as I write that I feel the grief the rich man must have felt, and because it’s so hard to swallow I already know in my heart that I’m determined not to follow it. How could Jesus ask that of me? How could he want me to get rid of my business? To scrap all I’ve worked for? To get rid of everything I’ve done, IN THE NAME OF GOD? I mean, it’s so completely my calling. God ASKED me to do this!!!! How could he want me to give it all up?
Because sin isn’t a moral wrongdoing, sin is the thing that gives us the idea that we can have all the glory. Without God. Sin is the thing we decide gives us all the joy and power. Without God.
Jesus says, “Put me first. Let me decide how much money you will have, how much fame you will be granted, whether or not you will have children, and if you will have a husband. Make me your dream.”
Because whatever we want most in the world, whatever we dream for, if we’re putting it before God, we’re missing the point.
We’re like the rich man, pursuing our dreams and still coming up spiritually empty. I’ve experienced it, you’re probably feeling it right now! I’ve put a lot of love and effort into my business—it is often the thing I want most in this world—but when I put it before God, it becomes my monster. It will never be enough, and I will always want more. More readers, more advertisers, more newsletter subscribers, and more podcast listeners. But when I put God first, everything is enough. I have treasure in heaven.
What are you putting first? What are you putting before God? What is your “sin”? I’ll tell you right now it’s the thing you want most in the world. It’s your dream. Do you want a boyfriend, a husband, a child? Do you want a successful business, a thriving empire, fame and fortune?
Surrender it. Because when you make God your treasure, when you put Him first, He will make you His treasure. And God’s idea of treasure is far greater than ours anyway.