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Serve Your Neighbor, Serve God


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Looking at them, Jesus said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God, because all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27, Holman Christian Standard).


          Friends, those with great means don't exactly have a harder time in coming to grips with the grace of God. No, if that was the case, the rich young ruler, found previously in several preceding verses (Mark 10:17-21), would not have come to ask Jesus what it took to do right. Why else did the man say to Jesus, "Teacher, I have kept all these from my youth" (Mark 10:20).

          Rather, to say it's not that riches get in the way of our path to the Lord, it's what or where our devotion lay. The rich man wanted to excuse why he would not or even could not follow after Jesus. Jesus told the young man, "You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me" (Mark 10:21).

          What so often gets in the way of our coming to Jesus and following after Him is our own ideas, our own desires -- those things which we know we should and ought to put aside for the glory of the Kingdom of God -- and to simply give Him acknowledgement, thanks, and praise for the love He gives.

          He didn't meet the young ruler and say, "You haven't kept a single commandment!" Jesus didn't even rebuke him saying, "Be gone, for you will never do the Father's will." No. Christ simply talks to him. He tells the young man what he can do and to "Come and follow." Does the man do so? We're told this: "But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property" (Mark 10:22, New American Standard).

          Two things stare glaringly at me: one, the man was saddened by what Jesus told him. He wasn't willing to give back what God gave to him. Who's to say had he not given what God gave to him be returned to him in spades? He simply hung his head and grieved. Second, we're told he owned much property. A lot of people could have benefited from the sale of property.

          I'm not the kind of man, like in Judas' case where he was adamant that the perfume be better spent than being applied to Jesus' feet. I'm seeing this from the effect the generosity of the young ruler who came to Jesus. He was unwilling to GIVE. He received so much that it made it hard for him to give back what was given to him.

          The whole point is that God gives each of us a small portion to deal and handle in our time here. We're to be like the man given the most talents. He put what was given to him to it's fullest potential and he reaped a double portion of what he was responsible for (see Matthew 25:14-30). The young ruler could have received far more, but he was truly unable to get past 1) what he thought was his, and solely his; 2) the call Jesus gave to him.

          It's true we cannot serve both God and materialism. I'm not suggesting we can serve both. Actually, what I'm saying is that give back to God what is His (see Mark 12:17), and do what He commands out of love and faith.

          Do you struggle with knowing for sure where you stand before the Lord? Come to Him. Lay down your burdens before Him. Tell Him what it is you have and lay it down at His feet. He can take what you have (or lack thereof) and make something of use from and with you. Do you struggle in life not knowing where you stand with Him? Come and talk to Him. Just like He told Joshua, "I will never leave nor forsake you" (Joshua 1:5).

          Give what you have over to Him. Allow Him to give you and be your rest. Take the peace He has and make it yours. Also, get into His word--the Bible--and plumb its depths. You'll find gold. And even then, when you give it to others, like I am, you will never run dry of its riches. God is wonderful in keeping His promises. Allow Him to give your promise, which is this: "I am their inheritance...I am their possession" (Ezekiel 44:28, Holman Christian Standard).