Some obstacles are easy to see – like a closed door or a roadblock. It’s often easier to identify someone else’s obstacles or shortcomings than your own (one of the reasons we are all so good at giving unsolicited advice!) But has it ever occurred to you that your personal dreams and aspirations could be your biggest obstacle?
The story of the young rich man asking Jesus “What good thing must I do to have eternal life?” is a good example of this. When asked the question, Jesus responded: “…go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven and come, be My disciple.” (Matthew 19:21)
Jesus could see that the thing standing between this young man and eternal life was his own success. This young man was, by our standards, a good guy – he kept the 10 commandments, he loved his parents, he tithed, he even knew that there was still something that he lacked. His heart was sincere in his question and yet Jesus’ answer distressed him. Why? Because Jesus had identified the ONE thing that he loved more than God. This young man’s actions were not enough, he hung on to his wealth and possessions because he felt it defined him – it allowed him to be generous, it enabled him to do good works in God’s name but that very same thing was hindering his own entry into God’s Kingdom. His aspirations of being a wealthy ruler; his dream of being great was his very own roadblock.
Giving (in the way that God encourages) is not only about money or possessions. Many people read Matthew 19 and see it as a commandment for all of us to sell everything and live without possessions – there is merit in that but it could also be missing the point. God requires us to give HIM everything not give away everything.
There is a famous song that says “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.” (Meatloaf) – many a dinner conversation has been had around what “that” could be (and no, we’ve never reached a conclusion) however, in the context of this article, if you were the one singing it – what would your “that” be? If God were having this conversation with you, saying “If you truly love me and want to be in My Kingdom you must give me……(fill in the blank)” what would it be that makes you feel dismayed because it’s the one thing you don’t want to let go of? It could be God asking you to get rid of your TV, your PlayStation, your daily gym session, your book club; or change your location, your job, your lifestyle – anything that you are prioritising more than Him. If you are choosing to do something or be somewhere, over being with God, then that’s your “tell”, no poker face can hide your heart.
The reality, as Jesus so clearly puts it “Why do you ask Me about the perfect and essentially good? There is only One Who is good – God.” We try to be good, we try to fashion ourselves in Jesus’ likeness and it is a daily exercise. If you are really honest with yourself (more honest than Simon Cowell in X-Factor) you would know what you need to give God, what that one thing is that stands between you and eternity. Pray on it, ask your home group or someone you respect and trust. It may hurt or be uncomfortable and if it is, then it means you are on the right track.
There is nothing that God wouldn’t do for you – can you do the same for Him?