#57: What’s Your Limit?

#57: What’s Your Limit?

My new friend Becky has a chicken coop in her yard. It’s a really nice new chicken coop that she and her husband worked hard to build. But it’s empty. No chickens. Not even a peep.

You see, as Becky researched the business of raising hens, she moved from hunger for daily fresh eggs to hesitation at the time and commitment involved. She recognized that at this stage in her life, she didn’t want to be tied down to chickens. She hit a boundary past which she was no longer willing to move forward. Someday there may yet be hens in that coop but for now, Becky has a really nice repurposed storage shed!

With every choice we make we have limits, factors that determine when yea becomes nay. Sometimes the choices are small, sometimes big, occasionally life-changing—even eternal. Today we’ll meet a wealthy young man who faced a choice and met his limit.

Thanks for joining me in today’s study of Mark’s gospel, part of our series called Knowing Jesus. Get your Bible and let’s read!

Look at Mark 10:17-31, and the same account as recorded in Matthew 19:16-30 and Luke 18:18-30.

As Jesus walked along, a young man ran up and fell to his knees, his rich robes trailing in the dirt. “Good teacher,” he panted, “What may I do to inherit life eternal?”

“Why do you call Me good?” Jesus responded. “No one is good except God alone.”

What a strange answer! Was Jesus saying He wasn’t good? No, He wanted the man to realize the meaning of his words and to fully understand who he was addressing. This young man believed he had served God all his life, but he was about to meet a new level of commitment. Jesus challenged, “If I’m truly good, I’m also truly God. Are you ready to listen and obey?”

Then Jesus met him where he was. “You know the commandments,” He said.

“Yes!” exclaimed the young man. “I’ve known and kept them since I was little.”

I love verse 21. Jesus looked at him and loved him. This man was humble, earnest, eager, willing to work hard. He was wealthy, influential and, though young, already a ruler (Lk. 18:18). He had great potential—if he would be completely devoted to God. But there was still one boundary to breach.

“One thing you yet lack,” Jesus said. “Go, sell everything you have and give the profits away, keeping only your treasure in heaven. Then come follow Me.”

The young man’s face fell and he sadly walked away—unwilling to give up his great wealth. Jesus had zeroed in on the limit of his love for God, the boundary past which he was no longer willing to move forward.

Which brings me to two questions.

1) When Jesus looks at me, what does He see as the limit of my love? What one thing (or ten things!) do I lack? In the past year, He’s asked me to give up some things that were very important to me. Do I love Him more than those? I desperately want the answer to be a resounding yes, but I won’t pretend it’s always easy. What is the limit of your love? Which of His requests might cause you to step back?

2) What if that rich young man had been willing? What if he’d handed over his bank scroll and said, “I want You more than I want this”? According to Jesus’ statement in verses 29-30, he would’ve suffered no disappointment at the result. Neither will you or I. The richest, fullest life imaginable—here and eternally—is in Him.

Jesus later told His disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” They were astounded, having grown up with the belief that wealth was a sure sign of God’s blessing. They needed to understand that the real problem was self-sufficiency. The young man was asking Jesus how to do it himself. But eternal life is not a DIY project. Max Lucado wrote, “What you want costs far more than what you can pay. You don’t need a system, you need a Savior. You don’t need a resume, you need a Redeemer, for ‘what is impossible with men is possible with God.’. . . God does not save us because of what we’ve done. God does for His children what they can’t do for themselves.” (From The Applause of Heaven)

Our Redeemer is our resume. No other credential is acceptable. Only He can offer grace so great, a reward so sweet, that anything we might hold onto is worthless by comparison. Eternal life with Him is the “pearl of great price” (Mt. 13:44-45), worth everything we’ve got and more.

© Diane McLoud 2014

8 Comments on “#57: What’s Your Limit?

  1. Thank you very much ! I have always said my salvation is my absolute greatest gift ever !!!

    • When we have salvation, we have all we REALLY need. But because it’s an unseen gift (so far!), it’s easy to opt for what we can see, touch and measure—like the young man’s riches. God must be so pleased when we finally understand where real value lies, and we become willing to see everything else as secondary. Thanks, Denise!

  2. I just had one of those “Aha” moments when I read this! I never really understood “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” It sounded almost like He was being dismissive or something. But “If I’m truly good, I’m also truly God. Are you ready to listen and obey?” makes so much more sense to me. It has nothing to do with me and all about who God really is. I just love when the light bulb comes on in my head!

    • I love the “light bulbs” too, Gay. Those are my favorite moments in Bible study. I once read about a man who didn’t stop his study time each day until he’d had one of those aha’s—some new insight from God. Wish I could devote that kind of time each day! Still, I love it when it happens. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thank you for a challenging post – one that makes me think!

  4. Had one of those days yesterday. House payment went up & other monetary issues came about. I have been searching for another job so when it said you don’t need a resume you need a Redeemer it struck home. Brings me back to Ephesians 3:20. Its so not about here and what “things” we can have. Its about serving God and preparing ourselves for eternity (and taking as many with us as we can). Thanks again for your time you put into these.

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