Slip Sliding Away: Staying the CourseSeptember 2, 2013
Generous: God Loves a Cheerful GiverSeptember 2, 2013
Do you have anything sitting in your attic or basement, or closet, you really don’t need? I have these boxes of stuff, and many other “things” I absolutely don’t need, and are just clogging up my house, as well as my precious feng shui. But I can’t seem to get rid of them.
I might need them one day. I might wear them … one day. Never mind I haven’t for years.
And they mock me as I walk by, with a condescending sneer. They know they have control. They know I can’t seem to muster the will power to clean them out. They know I’m in bondage to them.
So finally I screwed up my courage and I had a yard sale. And I gave away many of these things, just to be free of them.
And I was freed! What a cleansing experience. Those boxes, those slave-drivers, were gone.
Imagine that: a yard sale freed me.
Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler (RYR) to have a yard sale, too, if he wanted to be free to follow him. Matthew 19:21
I have taught, and have been taught, that Jesus’ statement to the RYR about giving away everything was specifically for him, because obviously his money and his possessions were his god. (And just as obviously he would be the only one ever afflicted by this, right? Ha!)
But I was wrong. Jesus says this elsewhere, and as a matter of fact he sort of makes it a universal principle – universal, as in for all of us.
Don’t panic. Or maybe do. Whatever gets your attention. But notice Jesus’ words in this next passage.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” Luke 12 (Bold added)
Okay, now you can panic.
But let’s dig deeper.
When Jesus tells the RYR, and you, to sell all and give to the poor, he is really saying, “Have a yard sale of the heart.”
He is saying, “Sell, give away, get rid of, run off, do whatever it takes to free yourself from whatever it is that has gripped you, whatever is holding you back from a full surrender to me. Then you will be freed up to follow me. Because this is how you find me, and how you follow me: by surrendering.”
We don’t make a commitment to Jesus. We don’t acceptJesus. We surrender to him.
Is there anything that competes for your heart, and therefore prevents your full surrender, more than your money? If you think you are an exception, you’re likely deluded. But even if you are right, Jesus is still speaking to you when he says, “To come clean, to fully surrender and follow me, have a yard sale of the heart.”
Look at what Jesus says in this often overlooked passage about, yet again, having a yard sale of the heart:
39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. … 41 But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.” Luke 11 (Bold added)
Shouldn’t Jesus just say, “Clean the inside of the dish, like you do the outside?” Why does he add, “give what is inside?” Because Jesus knows our hearts, and he knows nothing competes for our hearts more than our money and our stuff.
So in all cases, Jesus knows the quickest way to start the process of surrendering to him is to start the process oftrusting him. And nothing will force you to trust him more than to obey his commands to give, and give, and give.
When you give, more than you are comfortable giving, you will find yourself looking to the Lord and saying, “Okay, I’m listening to you. I’m trusting you. I’m following you. This makes me nervous to give like this. What if …? What about …? How will I …?”
And then you will conclude, “I guess I will have to trust your promises to take care of me if I am obeying you.”
Thus the “cleaning the inside” process starts. Because the trusting process started first. The progression is: From fear – to faith – to freedom!
I don’t know of anything more freeing than learning to trust God.
The path to the A+ Life is paved with trust and surrender.
If You Want a Little More:
Picture this: A new Christian approaches you and says, “I’ve seen the Light. My heart is changed. Yes, I’ve been born again. I want to grow. So I’m going to spend time praying, seeking, reading and studying God’s word.
“But I want to grow in trust as well. Is there a way to kick start growing in my trust in the Lord?”
Jesus would advise to have a yard sale of the heart. And he says the first step is to start giving. Because Jesus knows our hearts, and he knows nothing — not one thing — will test your trust more than to give your money away. Maybe not all of it, but at least start with tithing 10% of your income.
Trust me, this will test your trust.