In the story of the rich young ruler, Jesus tells him to go and sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. The young man left very sad because his riches meant more to him than following Jesus.
Jesus also said to follow Him we must be willing to hate/give up the most important relationships in our lives. By Jesus’ own clear instructions, we are told we should not allow anything (riches) or anyone (parents, spouse, siblings, etc.) to stand between us and our relationship with Him.
Jesus wants our undivided, uncompromising focus and attention.
Does this mean Jesus wants to be a kill-joy in our lives? The answer is, No! Rather, Jesus declares that if we make our relationship with Him our priority, we will discover how to best enjoy the good things and the many relationships of this life.
Learn to hold lightly to money and materials things rather than allowing your life and resources to be consumed in the pursuit of these. Jesus said this is how those who do not know Him live their lives (Matt. 6:32). He has promised that for those who seek Him first, He will provide all that they need (Matt.633).
The same is true when it comes to the relationships in your life. If all other relationships are not guided by your relationship with Jesus, it’s all too easy to use and abuse other people to meet your own needs in a selfish way, or to be used and abused by others. Try as you may, this way of relating is natural to your fallen humanness.
When your relationship with Jesus is your priority, you learn to see the value in all other relationships, because you learn that you are loved and valued, and so is everyone else. When it comes to relationships, Jesus’ call is to love your neighbor as yourself.
When you make your relationship to Jesus your priority, you discover how much you are loved and valued for who you are as a person. That should lead you to see how much others are loved and valued in the same way.
Jesus’ call for you to make your relationship to Him a priority above the two things that really define your life – relationships and the pursuit of things – is not so that He can be some kind of kill joy in your life. Rather it is because He wants you to enjoy both of these as you were originally meant to experience them (John 10:10).
Looking at the things and relationships you value, do any of them take priority over your relationship with Jesus? Here is the test, if you were asked to give up any one of those things or relationships in obedience to Christ, could you?
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