Posted on June 4, 2014
#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