“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19: 20 – 22
How do you catch a monkey? It’s not easy, they are small, fast and very smart. But there’s an old story that says what to do is to place some fruit in a jar with a hole just wide enough for the monkey to squeeze it’s fist into. Once it clenches its fist around the fruit it will not longer be able to get it’s hand out. All the monkey has to do to get free is to let go, but instinct tells it to hang onto the fruit and so it is trapped by it’s own hand.
For all his riches, the young man was trapped. He was held tightly onto his possessions, afraid to let them go. Maybe it was a love of being rich, or pride, or fear of poverty, we don’t know. But whatever the reason this young man could face the idea of a life without his money, and so he wasn’t ready to be a follower of Jesus. And we learned back in Chapter 6, “No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jesus offers us a life of freedom. A life free from the need to gather more and more wealth; from needing to be better than other people; and from judging ourselves by numbers and statistics. When we hold our wealth loosely we discover that there are things in life far more enriching than money
Prayer: Generous God, thank you for the things you provide me: the home that keeps me safe, the food that nourishes me, and the money that allows me to sustain myself. But help me to hold those things loosely. Help me to know that no riches could ever replace your love for me, and that no amount of poverty could ever make me less valuable in your eyes. May I be a responsible steward of everything you’ve given to me.
Action: The word ‘obligation’ actually means ‘to bind’. Take some time today to look at your financial obligations. How are they binding you? Are there any you could let go of that would actually make you more free?