Sunday, September 25, 2011

Do You Really Trust?

So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, "who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time--houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions--and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30 NKJV

This verse is one I remember learning in Sunday school when I was just a little guy memorizing verses in order to get a prize. Anyone else out there experience that? Funny to remember what my motivation was back then, only to find that I have never forgotten those verses I memorized. In a way though, while my motivation for learning was in expectation of a reward, I did in fact learn a lesson that has stayed with me for all of my life and that is that God promises us that our sacrifices will be rewarded.

Now while I may not have sacrificed much back then other than the time it took to memorize those verses, as I grew older I began to realize that my decision to follow Christ could cost me in other ways. I have no doubt all of us who choose to believe have experienced not only the loss of something we may have held dear, but have also at one time or another probably had the thought cross our mind that maybe it really isn't worth it? Have you ever hesitated to do something you know God wanted you to do because you were unwilling to give something up?

The passage above is from the story of the rich man who was unwilling to give up all his riches and follow Christ. You probably remember the story of how he came to Jesus and asked how to gain eternal life, and was told that the final thing he needed to do was give up all that he had and follow Christ. When Jesus told him that, we are told he couldn't find it in himself to make that choice.

But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Mark 10:22 NKJV

Now when I first read this passage my thought was simply that he wasn't willing to pay the price by giving up all he had, but if you look closer at the passage Jesus tells us exactly what his shortcoming was.

Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:23-25 NKJV

You see, the key word here is “trust”. When Jesus first says that it's hard for the rich to enter the kingdom, I think the disciples reaction was much like mine in thinking it was just an unwillingness to give up. So Jesus clarifies His statement by saying it is the rich person's “trust” in his riches that prevents him from entering the kingdom. Of course, you have to love the reaction of the disciples to Jesus' words here.

And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?"
Mark 10:26 NKJV

I think their reaction and question gives us insight into just what Jesus was saying because the question they ask does not differentiate between rich and poor. Their question seems to imply it's impossible for “anyone” to be saved. I think it's safe to say that the message here is about the difference between trusting in our own efforts to provide for our needs, and trusting God to provide for our needs. It all really comes down to an attitude of trust. We often think what we have is a result of our own efforts, rather than considering that God has engineered the circumstances that provided what we have.

The disciples were in a perfect position to experience that, yet I'm curious if they even recognized what was going on while they were with Jesus? Have you ever wondered how thirteen men traveling around the country without jobs managed to live? Think about it. Where did the food come from? Where did the money come from? If thirteen homeless men came to your door today could you feed them? Would you even have enough food to make them a meal? Yet Jesus and His disciples did just that for three years! Did the disciples never marvel at the fact that they managed to eat every day, and somehow no matter where they went they were provided for?

I personally believe up to this point they might not have, but now Jesus makes His point by using this situation as an example in order to teach the disciples the lesson.

But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men [it is] impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." Then Peter began to say to Him, "See, we have left all and followed You."
Mark 10:27-28 NKJV

I like the phrase here where it says “Peter began to say”. In other words, he didn't get a chance to finish his thought because Jesus interrupted him. It's in the back of my mind that what Jesus was saying is something like “thank you for making my point for me, Peter”. You see, the disciples had left all for Jesus' sake, and they were always provided for by Him. Was it at this point that they finally realized that it was because of their decision to give all away that their needs were being taken care of on a daily basis?

Right now we are living in what many consider desperate economic conditions where much of what we have invested over the years is disappearing at an alarming rate. Every day seems to bring more bad news about the economy and words like recession and depression are everywhere. Yet I find many believers are smiling and happy in spite of these things, and it seems clear they are not concerned with the doom and gloom so prevalent in the news. How is that possible? I believe it is because those believers have truly placed their trust in God and His promise to provide. After all, what we already have was provided by God in the first place wasn't it?

The key to this entire story is trust. Trust is an attitude of believing so much in the promise of God to provide all that we need that we have no hesitation at all to give up what we may already have! The rich young man in this story trusted only in what his riches could provide. The disciples gave all they had away in order to follow Jesus and trust in Him, and He provided everything they needed. Is your trust in Him? Do you truly believe God will not only provide for your needs, but do so “ a hundredfold”? I suggest you try Him and see!

Keep watching.