By Dr. Scott Rodin*
I have always found it rather unnerving to read these two texts side by side. The contrast could not be sharper.
A certain ruler asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.” “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. When Jesus heard this he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy (Luke 18:18–23).
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid yet again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field (Matthew 13:44).
In the first, Jesus offers the wealthy young ruler treasure in heaven. He invites him into the kingdom of God as a fully submitted follower of Jesus. He offers him freedom, joy, and the opportunity to begin his own journey with Jesus as a faithful steward. When this wealthy man compared his own riches with the kingdom that Jesus was offering, he valued what he had as so precious that he declined Jesus’s offer. Luke tells us that, as result, “he became very sad.” No doubt. How else could a person feel, having refused the riches of heaven for the temporal trappings of earthly wealth?
How striking it is to move from this story immediately to Jesus’s parable about the man who is out plowing a field when he happens upon a treasure whose value is beyond his wildest dreams. This treasure is so precious to him that he immediately does the exact thing that the rich young ruler refused to do. He “sold all he had” in order to purchase that field and realize that treasure for himself.
This is the decision that faces us every day. Being a one-kingdom steward requires nothing less than the total surrender of everything in life to Jesus Christ. Why would we do such a thing? Because knowing Him, following Him, and serving Him is of inestimable value. When we embrace our call to be citizens of the kingdom of God, the things of this world have no hold on us. We gladly turn over all of our life and our leadership to Him for the opportunity to know that one incredible treasure.
In both stories there is the idea of selling everything you have. What would it look like in your life as a steward to sell everything you have in order to follow Jesus, to claim for yourself the treasure of heaven He offers? Take the challenge by completing this sentence:
“Jesus, today I commit to sell everything I have and follow you. For me that means I will _______________”
When you look at your life, your leadership values, and the decisions you make in your vocational role, do they bear witness to the first story or the second? Sadness or joy—one of the two will mark our lives today as a direct result of how we answer that question.
What is your response to Jesus’s invitation to embrace the kingdom of heaven and follow Him?
How would you answer Scott’s question? Would it be easy or hard to pray the “totally commit today” prayer?
For me, it’s not so easy. My head says ‘yes’ but it would be hard to act on it.