by Jeff Beneze
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“The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:20-21 KJV)
“...what lack I still yet?” It is a great question, but the answer is seldom discovered until after you have a conversation with Jesus. No matter how far you have come; you can always go farther. No matter how good the performance was; it could have been better. No matter how spectacular the amusement park is; there is always something to add. No matter how ingenious the policy is; it can always be refined. For some it is a daunting futility at which point they realize there is no point in continued effort as the carrot continually moves forward. For others it is a cheer leading mechanism to encourage people to go the extra mile. In either case it is the one question that can always be asked. At least of a manager...
A manager? Why a manager? A seemingly similar question can be asked of one who surrenders all. There is always something left to turn over, give up, or let go of. Yet, he who surrenders asks an entirely different question. He is never concerned with what he lacks, but with the sufficiency of his source. No matter how great the need, how deep the hurt, how wide the distance in the relationship, it can always be filled with the love, the peace, the patience, and the joy of God. So many describe the sadness with which the man in this story parts as an insurmountable realization that he cannot obtain the kingdom of God. Many also extend this to his unwillingness to try further. As I have not had the chance to interview this individual myself, I cannot be certain what his parting situation was. Yet, I can imagine a very plausible case for neither of the usual assumptions. I would be sad too if I just realized that all my conquests, victories, quality education, good positions, and more have all been steering me in a bad direction. I think the greatest sadness would come from knowing that you have invested so much into something that was suddenly found to be so worthless. Even more than the lost value of the investment; the whole strategy of how wealth and power are come by has been made clear and it did not include any methods for which you are trained.
The magic of surrender is not simply that the more you give away, the less you have. It is also the more you give away the more Jesus fills you. In a clearer perspective of the capacity of our container we are more like a fire hose than a kettle. Yet, even thinking of ourselves as a kettle, the more times we are emptied and refilled the more people are fed with the stew that God takes the time to cook within us. The reason this struggle is so difficult for the rich is that inheritances are the things we most want to manage. We are taught from most financial planners that you want to seed your investments early, spread them around, and let them grow for the long term. This requires constant management. For the Christian the picture of tithe is not only similar in the amount that you should put away (10 %), but you seed early, spread it around, and in patience let it grow for the long term. The difference is that when you follow God's direction and give to the poor you completely remove any management capability as the poor spend everything and return almost nothing. The tithe is planting a resource investment into God's hands and trusting that it is from His hand that the harvest will one day come. A tithe is effectively laundering all ties to your control of the investment from your hands into God's hands through the poor that your faith might be the factor by which you reap a harvest later. For some that is later in life here and for others these are the treasures which are stored in heaven which escape thieves, rust, taxes, and inflation. Your tithe to God is your 401k. For some of us He chooses to call us home to collect. Your inheritance is found in surrender to Jesus; not by better management.
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:29 KJV)
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