When Jesus Causes you Pain.
A rich man came to Jesus and asked how he could ‘enter the kingdom of God.’ If the man didn’t have any problems he wouldn’t have needed Jesus. If his money was enough to solve his problems he wouldn’t have needed Jesus. In spite of the money he possessed, the man had big problems and he knew that only Jesus could solve them, so he came to Jesus.
A passage of scripture says, ‘money answers all things.’ “All Things” refer to money related things. Apparently it cannot give solution to all human problems, if it could then rich people will be the happiest on the planet. But sadly they are not. Money cannot solve issues relating to your emotions, mind and soul. Money cannot solve issues that have nothing to do with money. This man’s needs were beyond what money could provide.
The rich man asked Jesus, ‘how can I enter the kingdom of God?’ Jesus looked at him and saw what no other man could see. He saw what covetous and greedy pastors would never see. He saw what wolves cleverly disguised as pastors would never see. He SAW that the rich man was a SLAVE to money. Mammon, the god of money had imprisoned him in its dungeon. Jesus wanted to set him free from bondage to mammon. Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon. You must choose who you will serve. You can’t serve them both.
‘Sell everything you have. Give the proceeds to charities. Follow me.’
These were not the words the man expected to hear from Jesus. These words cut deep into his soul and exposed the secrets of his heart. These words caused him pain.
How could Jesus tell him to give up his money? His very existence and sense of being was tied to his money. His money gave him a sense of power, control, influence, permanence and immortality. Telling him to give it away was going to strip him of his false sense of power and control. Giving it all away was going to leave him naked, defenceless and vulnerable. He loved his money more than he wanted the kingdom. He was willing to continue living a miserable life as long as he held on to his money. He chose money over true freedom. In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, take heed beware of covetousness because a man’s life does not consist of his possessions. But this man’s life literally consisted of his possessions. Taking away that money was taking away his life. He couldn’t give it up. He was bound to it.
Jesus said, ‘Come the way you are,’ but you can’t follow Him the way you are. We follow The Lord Jesus on His own terms, not ours. To follow him, certain things that have taken over our soul would have to go. Giving up those things will cause us pain. Deep pain. Real anguish of heart. It was that pain the rich man was trying to avoid. The words of Jesus caused him sorrow.
What is Jesus telling you to do that is causing you sorrow? What is He telling you to give up that is giving you pain? For some of us it has nothing to do with money, but with other areas of our lives.
Give up that handsome man, that pretty woman you want to marry.
Give up that career, that job, that project, that pursuit.
Give up that lucrative business.
Give up that academic pursuit.
Give up that house, that apartment, that neighbourhood.
Give up that country, that nation, that citizenship.
Give up those friends.
Give up that ministry.
Give up that church, that pastor, that congregation….and follow me.
Jesus told this rich man truth that broke his heart and caused him sorrow because the kingdom is more important than money. Saving that man’s soul was more important than having him bring his riches and great possessions into the ministry of Jesus.
Jesus told him: ‘Your soul is more important to me than your money. I am not impressed, neither am I distracted by your money. I don’t want your money. I want to fix something in your soul.’ There are deceivers in the pulpit who encourage sinners to bring their money, bring tithes, bring special offerings, assuring them that when they do, all will be okay. That is a big lie. Jesus didn’t deceive this rich man with lying platitudes. No. He told him the truth even if it caused him to walk away with his riches.
And Jesus let him go.
He didn’t stop him. He didn’t try to persuade him to change his mind. He didn’t make him a deacon or an ‘Elder’ in church because he had so much money. He didn’t make him a unit head because he had great possessions. He didn’t make a spiritual illiterate a pastor because he had powerful connections in the business world and would bring his friends to church. No. He let him go!
The man left worse off than he came.
Jesus didn’t remove his burden.
Jesus didn’t solve his problems.
Jesus didn’t save his soul.
Rather Jesus made things worse for him by revealing the self deception going on in his life. Jesus revealed the lies deep seated in his heart. He had been lying to himself for so long and Jesus revealed it to him. Instead of asking for mercy, grace and help, the man left very sorrowful, very depressed and in a lot of pain but still holding on tenaciously to his god: mammon.
When The Lord wants to remove stuff from our lives, we fight Him, argue with Him, question Him and even walk away from Him. We avoid listening to truths that challenge the hidden idols in our lives. In this Kingdom, true freedom is following The Lord on His own terms, not ours.
In Matthew 5:30, Jesus said if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Cutting off your hand is a metaphor. Jesus was saying that removing certain things from our lives will cause us pain. True freedom will first cause us pain before it brings us joy. It will first make us feel terrible before it makes us feel good. Entering the Kingdom will remove certain things from our lives and this will cause us pain. These are things we are used to. Even if they are holding us back from serving the Lord in truth, we have become emotionally attached to them. Giving them up will not be easy, it won’t make us jump for joy but it will set us free!
We should learn a lesson from the life of Moses. He was a prince in Egypt. He also had great possessions. But he walked away from it all by faith. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:23, By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.
Moses suffered because of what he knew he would gain. Giving up his position and possessions in Egypt must have caused him great emotional pain. But he did, ‘seeing Him that was invincible.’
Moses gave up riches and possessions so that he could follow God’s Will for his life, and he did. He led the Israelites out of slavery into freedom. He fulfilled God’s purpose for Hs life. But the rich man would rather die with his riches than follow Christ. He would rather be a slave to mammon than be free in the kingdom.
We follow The Lord on His own terms, not ours. To serve Him in truth, certain things must be cut off from our lives. Our freedom, our liberty, depends entirely on our willingness to obey Him and let go of every idol in our heart.
Friend, what is The Lord asking you to do that is causing you pain? What is He asking you to let go that is causing you sorrow? Ask Him for grace to let go of what He wants you to. True freedom, real peace and joy is tied to our obedience.