On Whose Terms?
A rich, young man ran after Jesus, knelt before him and asked, ‘Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus told him to keep the commandments. He said he had kept all the commandments from his youth. Jesus looked at him and LOVED him, then said to him, : ‘you lack just one thing, give up your riches and follow me.’
The Bible records that the young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. You can read this story in Mark 10:17-27.
The Bible says in Hebrews 13:28, that we should serve God in an acceptable manner, with reverence and godly fear. Basically, it says that we should serve God in a manner that is acceptable to HIM, not to us.We should serve Him the way that He wants to be served, not the way we feel like.Whether you realise this or not, there is an ACCEPTABLE way to serve God.
The rich, young man came to Jesus with a sense of his own righteousness. He had kept the law from his youth. He was blameless in his own eyes. However, Jesus looked at him and told him to give up his riches and follow him. Jesus knew that his riches were an idol in his life. He knew that although this man looked ‘righteous’ on the outside, within him, money had established an evil kingdom and he was enslaved in a prison of covetousness and avarice. Although this man looked ‘rich and free’ on the outside, within his soul, he was a slave to mammon. The god of money ruled, controlled and held him in deep captivity.
Jesus told him clearly that he couldn’t enter His kingdom with mammon as his god. He couldn’t serve God acceptably if he answered only to mammon and nothing else.
Here was this man standing before Jesus and he thought that he could deceive him with his self righteousness and religious lifestyle. He thought like many do today, that he could deceive Jesus with his riches and flamboyance. But like Peter said to Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:20, ‘your money perish with you because you want to buy the gift of God with money.’ You cannot buy the Kingdom with your money, you can only receive it by faith on God’s own terms. You can deceive covetous pastors out there who preach and instill covetousness into your soul, but you cannot deceive the Holy Spirit who sees into the depths of your heart. Unlike the covetous pastor, the Holy Spirit cannot be impressed, bought, deceived or silenced by your money and material possessions.
Jesus knew this man in and out. Jesus could see into the depravity of his soul and knew that he was enslaved to money. The only way this man could be really free was to give up the Lordship of mammon over his life and yield to the Lordship of Jesus. It wasn’t enough to just call Jesus ‘Lord’, he had to give up the idol of mammon in his life before he was accepted in the kingdom.
Like that young, rich man, many of us are in bondage to mammon. We are slaves to money and many other vices which we hold close to our hearts. Some of us are in bondage to our jobs, friends, family, university degrees, material possessions, dreams and even relationships.
Even though we profess to be Christians and go to church regularly, what really matters to us is how much money we make, possess and have laid up in our accounts. Many are bound by the spirit of covetousness. They pursue money to the detriment of family, friends and future. Money has become their god, yet they pretend to ‘love the Lord’. But as Jesus exposed the duplicity and deception in that man’s life, so the Lord is exposing the true intent of our hearts. If that man really loved the Lord and wanted to enter the Kingdom, he shouldn’t have walked away from Jesus in sorrow. If he really wanted Jesus, he should have been ready to do all it took for him to enter the kingdom. He should have gone on his knees and like blind Bartemaeus, ask Jesus for mercy on his soul. But he really didn’t want the Lord; he wanted to enter the kingdom without real change, real repentance and holiness. The rich man wanted to serve Jesus on his own worldly terms.But as it was unacceptable then, so it is still unacceptable today.
We cannot serve God on our own terms. We must serve him acceptably, on his OWN TERMS. His terms are quite clear: live holy, without covetousness. When we serve Him on His own terms the result is peace and joy. Don’t make money your god. Live in contentment and put His Will first in all that we do. We cannot bring idols from the world system into the Kingdom. We cannot make mammon our master and yet pretend to love and serve the Lord with all our hearts. The Lord sees beyond all that foolish pretense. No matter how preachers encourage the acquisition of mammon to the detriment of our soul, God’s Word is still true. Serving the Lord must be, not on our own vain, myopic and covetous terms, but on His own eternal terms.