Am I the only one that gets a little anxious when reading Matthew 19? There is something about verse 25 that scares the snot out of me. As I ponder the reasons why that may be the case, I am confronted with a stark reality.
In reality, I am just like the rich young ruler (I’m speaking more about my heart than my bank account). That is to say that when God asks me to give something up in order to better serve him, I leave in sorrow, just as the rich young ruler did. Sometimes, I just don’t want to give up what I want! It doesn’t matter what you call it ambition, wealth, money, possessions or fortune. At the end of the day, these things entangle our hearts. The rich young ruler chooses death. I really do not want to choose the same!
This reality is driven home for me in Nehemiah 9. Starting with verse 35, we are reminded of the great land that God had given his people. It is described as large and rich and surrounded by God’s great goodness. But, of course, the people did not serve God, or turn from their wicked works. As in Nehemiah 9:36, I realize that I am nothing more than a slave. I become so surrounded and submerged in American culture that I often cannot see the goodness of God. No longer do I care that we have been given a great and rich land. When called upon to use a portion of it for His purposes, we reject him and live for our own passions and desires.
So what are we to do? Is there no hope? It would seem that we are all doomed to live as slaves, replaying this scenario over and over again. Thankfully, the disciples were on to this same question. It appears that they are just as freaked out as I am when they ask, “in astonishment, who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). I can hear the desperation in the question. They sense the impending doom. But, it is not. As long as we can keep an eye on Jesus there is hope. Jesus replies, “with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” When we focus on him, nothing else matters.
Father, remember us as you have remembered those before us. Even though we turn away and forsake your goodness, you are great in mercies. You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (Nehemiah 9:31 ESV)