During a Wednesday night Bible study exploring the joy of praising God, I said that at times there seem to be no words big enough to praise God. Who He is, defies description , any words I have are too small to adequately describe the greatness of God. Someone else in the group suggested we use the names in the Bible for God, for example He is our Rock.
I got to thinking about that. God is our Rock. He is also the Truth. I really do not like it when someone lies to me. I’m sure you feel the same about being lied to. The truth is light, while a lie is darkness, so when someone lies it muddies the waters and it is hard to see clearly. When we believe in God, the Truth, we stand firmly on the Rock. It is only when we choose to believe a lie that we have nothing firm to stand on and we start slipping and falling.
Take for instance, if when I have a frustrating moment in life, rather than turning to God and allowing Him to give me peace in that moment, I choose to reach for a cookie instead. Cookies will not bring me long term peace because too many cookies and I will gain a few pounds. Then I reach for another lie. I tell myself I can get myself out of this mess. But no amount of dieting, working out at the gym, buying the latest running shoes, etc. will fill the space I originally tried to fill with cookies. I want to make a disclaimer, there is nothing wrong with healthy eating, working out and buying new shoes, the only problem with any of them is when we try to use them to fill up the emptiness inside. This is the lie the devil tells us; Buy more, do more, and you will be happy. But it is not true. Only standing on the Rock of Truth will quench our thirst for something more. I find it interesting that when the Israelites needed water in the desert God provided it from a rock. Only God, our Rock, can provide us with living water so we will never thirst again.
The rich young ruler in Luke 18 was seeking something more. He had plenty of cookies, more than enough shoes, and didn’t need a gym membership because his home gym rivaled anything in town and he didn’t have to share it with anyone. But he wanted more and couldn’t figure out on his own what that more was. So he went to see the new teacher in town hoping maybe he had the answer. The young man asked Jesus, “What do I need to do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus boiled it down to this profound answer, “Sell everything you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.”
Can you imagine the scenes flashing through the rich young rulers mind when Jesus answered his question? He probably looked at Jesus and couldn’t imagine dressing like a poor man. Maybe he remembered times he had made fun of people wearing clothes like that with his friends. If he sold all his stuff and gave it to the poor…well he probably wasn’t even sure they deserved it. Afterall he was rich because God had blessed him. And follow Jesus? He knew what kind of peple followed Jesus. Why some of his disciples were uneducated fisherman and he had been educated by the finest minds in the country. He could just picture the reaction from his friends and relatives if he told them he was selling everything he had to give it to the poor then to top it off he was going to follow this Jesus fellow around the country side. Why he would be the laughing stock for years to come.
The deepest truth is wrapped up in Jesus answer to the rich young ruler…Sell all you have, give the money to the poor and come follow me. We must get rid of anything stopping us from following Jesus. It wasn’t the young man’s money that stopped him from following Jesus, it was the pride the money created in his heart. Jesus knew it was the money that created the heavy burden in his heart. But when presented with the truth he chose not to stand on the rock of truth, causing him instead to stumble over it. The problem with not accepting Gods truth when he gives it to us, is that if we do not choose to stand on the rock of truth we will trip over it instead. 1 Peter 2:8 says, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall. They stumble because they do not obey God’s word…”
The rich young ruler chose not to follow Jesus, not because he couldn’t give up his money, but because he couldn’t give up his pride. His money activated his pride and kept it healthy and alive. He couldn’t give up his own plans for his life. He insisted on sitting on the throne of his heart and ruling his life…one temporarily sweet delicious cookie at a time.