“And as He was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.”‘ And he said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.’ And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22 ESV)
This is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. We see a young man who is very interested in the things of God—he seeks out Jesus because he really wants to know about eternal life and how to have it. He is not playing games with words when he asks Jesus for advice—he is sincere, and he is ready to do whatever Jesus tells him. He has already spent many years trying to serve God. And Jesus loves him. He offers him a priceless opportunity—to become yet another disciple, to be with Jesus daily, living in the freedom and joy of God’s children. And yet …
It turns out the man has one tremendous anchor holding him to his present life, preventing him from following Jesus freely. In his case, it is riches. The man has wealth, land, maybe businesses. He is weighed down by these things. His heart is in them. When Jesus calls, he cannot bring himself to answer.
What a terrible grief! We may think to ourselves, “Well, I’m safe from that. I’m not rich.” But there are other anchors—or things that could become anchors for our lives, if we allow them to. For some people it is a career or treasured position. For others, it is friends or family or relatives. For others, it is reputation, prestige, power. Their hearts are so entangled in these things that when Jesus calls, they cannot free themselves and follow.
This is not to say that jobs or family or riches are bad things in themselves. They are good things that God creates and blesses us with. And yet, good as they are in themselves, they become deadly traps the minute they come between us and Jesus. “I am the Lord your God,” He says. “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Not because God is envious, or wants to cause us pain or trouble. Because anything that comes before Him in our heart is a false god, and in the end it will drag us down to death.
Does that mean that we should stop loving family or friends or work or possessions? No, it means that we should love God more—that we should put Him first—that, whenever God and one of these things come into conflict, we should give the preference to God. As long as the other things stay subordinate to God, they can safely stay.
We can ask Jesus for help with this, because He knows what it’s like to leave things behind. He Himself is the One who left all glory and honor in heaven—left safety and power and happiness—in order to be born into our world of grief and trouble. He did it because He loved God the Father first, and that was what He asked of Him; and Jesus did it also because He loved us, and wanted us to be His forever. Love makes the difference—and His Holy Spirit can plant that love in our hearts, so that Jesus Himself becomes our anchor forever.
Prayer: Lord, help me to love rightly—You above everything, and then all the good things You give to me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. Have you ever tried to go somewhere in a boat with an anchor down—or in a car, with the emergency brake still on? What was it like?
2. If you had to guess, what is the one thing in your life that is most likely to come between you and Jesus as a rival for His love?
3. How can you get to know the Lord better and grow in love for Him?