Mountains & Valleys
"Anciently, when a king journeyed through the less frequented parts of his dominion, a company of men was sent ahead of the royal chariot to level the steep places and to fill up the hollows, that the king might travel in safety and without hindrance. This custom is employed by the prophet to illustrate the work of the gospel. 'Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low.' When the Spirit of God, with its marvelous awakening power, touches the soul, it abases human pride. Worldly pleasure and position and power are seen to be worthless. 'Imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” are cast down; every thought is brought into captivity “to the obedience of Christ.' 2 Corinthians 10:5. Then humility and self-sacrificing love, so little valued among men, are exalted as alone of worth. This is the work of the gospel, of which John’s message was a part."
In a world of extremes, it is not uncommon to see the same befall the believers of Christ. There are some Christians who equate spirituality with poverty; while there are others who equate spiritual success with financial or material wealth. Jesus gives us the perfect counsel for balance to make sure that we walk in the straight, but blessed way.
In Mark 10, someone comes running to Jesus and kneeling in front of him. The Bible does not call him by any name or describe him otherwise. We know he was a ruler by the account of the same story in Luke 18. Over time, we have come to know this man as the rich young ruler. He asks Jesus, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17). When Jesus points to the things that must be done to be saved (To keep the law perfectly, including not to have an affair on your spouse, kill, steal, lie, cheat, or dishonor your parents. To do otherwise is to then fall under the condemnation or penalty of violating that law, which is eternal death - Romans 6:23), the ruler claims that he is guilt free and...perfect. So Jesus tests His perfection with the highest virtue of all - the sacrifice of self; surrender. It is here that the rich young ruler realizes he is a rich young fooler. He realizes that as perfect as his lifestyle may be, he is still just a plain selfish. Because he thought he could work his way into heaven, he's shocked to learn that the only to enter is by trusting the work of Jesus. And he would show his complete trust in Jesus as His Savior by doing whatever Jesus told him to do; including, giving up all of his assets, and becoming the 13th disciple.
Mark 10:21: Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Could it be, that Jesus wanted this rich young fooler to be the disciple who would take Judas' place after he would eventually betray Christ? We will never know, but what do know is this. Jesus never criticized or rebuked the young man's wealth or possessions. It may appear so when Jesus "looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:23). Clearly, Jesus knew this was a hard truth, especially for the disciples who were expecting to be rich once they thought Jesus would take the throne of Israel and become a worldly Messiah. But Jesus also knew how prone we are as human beings accomplish our own salvation. And he knew that on first glance, it would sound like He was crushing any material wealth and the way to follow Him or enter into the kingdom is to divest yourself of every single dollar and cent. But thank God, He clears the air of confusion and fear and "...Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:24).
Do you see it? It's not the riches, it is the TRUST in the riches. For the rich young fooler, Jesus knew the only way for that young man to reallocate his trust was to get rid of what he was trusting in. Jesus clearly didn't hate the money, but more than that, he loved the fool. Mark 10:21 says "Then Jesus beholding him loved him." He loved this fool so much and He wanted to put His arms around Him and take him with Him wherever He went from then on. But He also knew that the only way the young fool could take a hold of Christ and His righteousness was to let go what He held closest in His hand and His heart - His money. Jesus didn't want him to abandon that trust; Jesus wanted him to now invest that trust in His mercy, His grace, and His plan to make this fool His next disciple!
Is it possible to trust God that completely? To trust God more than money? "And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27). The Lord knows that for most of us, the more financially dependent we are, the more Christ-focused we are. But for some of us, we, like Abraham, Job, or David, will follow God with a hand full of money because we love the Giver more than the gift. Ephesians 2:8:"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" So both rich and poor alike can come to know the most precious thing we can possess is not an earned asset, but a gift. The free gift of salvation from sin and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ!
2 Corinthians 9:15,"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
"But there is only one model after which human character is to be formed—the character of Christ. Those who behold the Saviour are changed from glory to greater glory. When men will consent to submit to Christ’s will, to be partakers of the divine nature, their crooked, human peculiarities will disappear. When they decide that they will retain their own peculiarities and disagreeable traits of character, Satan takes them and places his yoke on them, using them to do his service. He uses their talents for selfish purposes, causing them to set an example so disagreeable, so un-Christlike, that they become a reproach to the cause of God."
- SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 6, p. 1098
A Little Grace Goes A Long Way
God has something to say to us (more than we want to hear it)! That's why there is always a WORD!