Opportunity to Change
I have a thought about the rich young man of Mark 10:17-22 and about myself. Take a few moments to read the story in Mark if you aren’t familiar with it!
The young man comes to Jesus with a question about what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him what he must do, and the rich young man presents his resume, sure that he has done since childhood what Jesus is asking. He thinks he knows himself, yet he does not. Jesus does. Jesus knows him and he loves him. He loves him so much, and he knows him so well that he tells him what he lacks, but he doesn’t do it directly. He does it by presenting the young man with an opportunity to obey and follow him. Jesus doesn’t directly say this, but I think it is true: “Sell what holds your affections and keeps you in bondage, and come follow me in freedom.” Jesus gives him the opportunity to be freed from his bondage to himself and his money, but the rich man does not recognize the opportunity and leaves the opportunity behind. He is the same, and he is sad.
What about me? Jesus also loves me, and knows me. He knows things about me that I am not even aware of yet. He wants me to be free to follow, and so he presents me with opportunities to obey and follow. Often the opportunities point out to me areas that need to change if I am going to move more and more toward Christlikeness. But I have a choice: I can take the opportunity to walk in faith, pray for eyes to see and a heart that does not harden when I hear His voice, or I can present my resume, my excuses, and in that moment stay the same. But like the young man of Mark 10, if I refuse the work of God in my heart when I walk away, I will also ultimately walk away sad.
That’s not the whole story, though. For me, as a Christian, because I truly belong to Jesus, my choice is only temporary. God has promised to complete the work he has begun in me. (Philippians 1:6) He won’t stop presenting me with opportunities and convictions. He is relentless at redeeming his own and will present me faultless before his throne. He freed me by justifying me through faith in Jesus, and is still freeing me. He saved me from the penalty of sin and is still saving me from the power of sin. This is the abundant, eternal life he offers: hope for the future in heaven and hope for change now.
This is one of the most encouraging things about belonging to Jesus. He knows me and loves me enough to change me. He won’t give up until I am fully his.
Lord, give me the faith to follow, the humility to respond with a soft heart to the prodding of your spirit, and the courage to enter into the opportunities you present in your goodness. Thank you for your love that knows and frees me.
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