Make Sure Your Heart Is in the Right Place
Jesus talked about a lot of different topics when he lived and walked this earth. The number one topic that Jesus spoke about was the Kingdom of Heaven (or God). It was the defining characteristic and topic of Jesus’ preaching. The Kingdom of God is near.
The second most talked about topic was money. But it wasn’t because Jesus was greedy or because he wanted to find a way to get what other people had. No, Jesus spoke so often about money because Jesus knows what kinds of things can rule our hearts. Things like money.
Jesus spoke so often about money because he didn’t want money to be the thing that kept us from knowing and experiencing what God’s kingdom is all about.
Take a moment and read this story from the Gospel of Mark: Mark 10:17-31.
There are so many interesting pieces to this story.
- Jesus rejects the title “good” so that he can point that to God.
- Jesus only lists the commandments that deal with how you treat other people; he doesn’t list any of the commandments that talk about how we worship God.
- The man receives the instruction from Jesus that he had been seeking (on how to gain eternal life), but he walks away from it saddened.
- Jesus’ upside-down, cryptic statement at the closing about how the first will be last and vice versa.
There is so much to consider and to reflect upon. But today, I want us to spend some time asking ourselves about the connection between where our hearts are and where the Kingdom of Heaven is.
Because this, I think, is so important as we consider our own ability and decision to follow Jesus. Jesus correctly and immediately identifies what is blocking this rich man from experiencing God’s kingdom in a fuller and more fulfilling way. And if we undertake the task of Christian spirituality, then we must be willing for Jesus to identify those things that are blocking us from being able to follow Jesus.
Often, we are blind to the things that control our hearts. In this story, it is money. I imagine that for many of us, money is a regular competitor for our hearts. (Or if not money, then something that money can provide: comfort, security, safety, well-being, access to any number of things, etc.). But it may also be something beside money. It could be work. Family. That one special connection or relationship that you have with someone else. A hobby. It could be something more insidious like pride. Jealousy and envy. Lust. Even revenge or hatred. There is no shortage of gods out there that can compete for our hearts.
But Jesus offers a simple solution to this potential problem. But although it is simple, it is also extraordinarily painful. Jesus’ advice: get rid of it.
If the thing that competes for your heart is money–give it away.
If it is lust, cut out your eye.
If it is security, place your trust in God instead of in your 401k.
If it is family, Jesus says to leave. (Just as a side note on this one–Jesus is not, here, giving permission to up and leave your family. Jesus says that if it is family ties and connections that is keeping you from following Jesus, then that is what needs to be severed. Not your relationship to your family, but your unwillingness or inability to follow Jesus because of familial commitments or, even worse, using your family as an excuse to not follow Jesus. This is why, in 1 Corinthians, Paul tells the Christians there that it is better to remain single, so that you don’t have the deep connection with a spouse that could war with your commitment to Jesus.)
These are not easy or popular ways of dealing with these issues. Nobody wants to hear Jesus tell them to give their retirement plan away. But if that retirement plan is somehow keeping you from following Jesus, then that is exactly what Jesus would tell you to do.
Because Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is near, that where your treasure is there your heart will be also, and finally to store up your treasures in heaven.
This week, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you to awareness of where your heart is. Ask God to open your eyes to anything that you might be blind to in your life. And then be willing to do as Jesus said: Give it away, and come follow him.