William Barclay tells a great story about the 18th century poet, Samuel Johnson. Dr. Johnson was being shown around a lavish castle estate, and he turned to those with him and said, "These are things that make it difficult to die." Have you ever felt that way? "I love this car so much, I don't ever want to lose it. I want to take it to heaven with me. I want to see what the thing does on streets of gold." Possessions and the desire for more have a way of gripping your soul and distorting your values, even to the point where you think that owning a few toys, or getting a piece of paper in the mail each month with enough numbers on it, is better than spending eternity with Jesus.

The lure of money and the desire for more also has a way of giving you a false sense of security. We're often tempted to think, "If I only had a sizable and steady stream of cash coming in, I would be so happy. All my problems would be solved and all my worries would disappear. Now I can serve God.” I don't begrudge anyone a nice house or a nice car, or a nice income, but you must take care that your possessions don't begin to own you, and that you don't become driven by a never-ending lust for more. This is why Jesus said, "Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)

When people read the story of the Rich Young Ruler, they often ask, "Does this mean that God expects all of us to sell everything and become poor? Short answer: No. We don't see this requirement of anyone else in scripture. So why did Jesus tell this rich young man that he must sell everything that he has and give it all away? Jesus knew that there was one thing that stood in the way of this man living a life fully devoted to God. It wasn't the fact that he had wealth. It was the attachment to his security blanket. This rich young man didn't mind being a good member of the synagogue, he didn't mind giving an appropriate nod to God every week, he didn't even mind living according to certain moral principles — but where he drew the line was in letting go of what really matters: the comfort and security that he was convinced only money could buy.

 Many people approach Christianity with this mindset: What's the minimum that I must do in order to be saved? Or to put it another way: How much sin can I commit and still get to heaven?  To many Christians are trying to live in that never-never land of partial discipleship, and they say, "I know that I need to be fully devoted to God, sold out and radical, but I'm afraid to try. I know I'll fail."

Your future is not determined by your greatness, or your weakness. It’s determined by God’s greatness. It’s not determined by what you can’t do, or what you can’t let go of. It’s determined by Christ’s power to change you when you surrender your security blanket to him. It’s just a matter of saying in your heart, “I surrender all.”


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