Every once in a while, a Bible verse reaches out and grabs me by the throat and messes with me in a big way and in a good way.
Today I want to share one of these with you. However, before I do, a little back story.
Two of the disciplines that I, by His grace, practice is scripture memory and journaling. I journal most days and at the end of a month I go back and read through my journal entries. I think and pray over what I wrote asking myself how I’m doing with the truths that caught my attention. Then I pick the verse (or a few verses) that most resonate with me and make that my memory verse for the next month. With His help, I will daily review, meditate on and pray over the verse(s) for a good ten months.
Having said that, here is my verse for the month of May:
“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.” Luke 14:33 The Message
Here is the same verse in the ESV: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
As I have been meditating and praying over this verse in The Message, here are some of my thoughts at this point:
Jesus is basically dealing with idols; anything in my life that is becoming, or has become, too important to me. When a good thing becomes an ultimate thing it then becomes a bad thing. This is the essence of idolatry.
Pastor Tim Keller in New York calls these things, functional idols or counterfeit gods. It was John Calvin who I believe said that our hearts are idol factories. I know mine is.
I appreciate 1st John 5:21 in the NLT in this regard: “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.”
For my own heart, I’m understanding that a key concept is “willing.” I need to be willing. I want to develop a willingness to take anything (plans or people) which have become too dear to me and kiss them goodbye; let them go.
I am reminded of the story of the rich young ruler mentioned in Matthew 19. Verse 22 in The Message says, “That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.”
On the other hand, we see Abraham in Genesis 22 being willing to give up what was dearest to him and had been a promise to him, his precious son Isaac.
I want to continue to learn to hold tightly to one thing, “Jesus” and to hold everything else with an open hand, being willing to give it up at any time.
My wife Susan and I are looking for a smaller house to lease. I found one that would have been perfect. It became an obsession with me. I just had to have that house. I was constantly thinking about it and dreaming about it. Then Luke 14:33 came along. The Holy Spirit started to deal with me on this. I finally surrendered to him that which had become too important and told him, as hard as it was, that I was willing to kiss the house goodbye. Within a day or two after that encounter with Jesus and Luke 14:33, the owner gave it to another applicant. I was totally at peace and not at war with the Lord and was fine in my heart. I’m sure I will have other wrestling matches with the Holy Spirit in the future.
Okay, now the tough question.
Has anything (plans or people) become too dear to you? Are you willing to “Kiss it goodbye” if your Lord asks you to? Are you holding too tightly to your Job, your health, your money, your success, your position or anything else that you are not willing to let go of and let Him be Lord over it? Would you agree that if he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all?
Now, I’m obviously not talking about (nor was Jesus) getting a divorce or throwing your kids out of your home because they have become too dear to you. But anything and anyone can become an idol and take God’s place in our hearts. We are talking about a willingness to let these plans and people have lower priority in our hearts and affections and not rival Jesus for first place. This is a work of grace and is not easy; but the consequences of such an attitude and mindset are huge for you, your family, your friends and for the kingdom of God.
I would love to hear some feedback on this post.