In this life we tend to avoid extremes. Own 1 or 2 guns and you’re a typical American, start stockpiling storehouses full and people get uneasy. We cling to old adages, “everything in moderation” and “too much of a good thing can kill ya!”
Yes, we really do prefer all things in moderation, but does God?
Does the God of the universe share our desire to blend in and enjoy everything with a hefty dose of moderation? For an answer, I turn to the story of a young man who comes to the Lord with a question.
It’s one of the most provocative stories in the New Testament—a young, wealthy, Jewish ruler comes to the Lord of Heaven and asks, “What must I do to attain eternal life?”
The question seems simple enough; many have asked it through the years. That’s not what makes this story significant—the significance comes in the reply of the savior.
“Sell all that you own and distribute it to the poor,” was his answer. Everything. All.
There is a sense of completeness, of wholeness that comes with the word all. It is the “whole quantity or extent.” Jesus doesn’t ask the rich man to give all of his savings to the poor, or even all of his money to the poor. No. The King of Kings commands this man to sell all that he has in his possession and distribute the money to the poor.
To me, that is profound.
Too often too many of us sit on our couches and watch our television while God waits for us to give all. We go to the movies & travel the world and he waits for our everything. We throw parties & plan weddings while he waits for our “whole quantity” to be given to him.
We read the story of this rich young ruler who loved himself and this world too much to give all that he had for the cause of Christ, and yet, how many of us deny Jesus the same daily?
I believe that we serve a God of extremes. He loved when he should’ve hated. That’s extreme. He restores health where he should’ve walked away. He served others when he was the one that deserved service. He was an extremist, and I believe that he expects nothing more from his people today.
We like going to church each week, sitting in our pew, maybe volunteering a few times a year. We give our tithe and many of us even add a little offering. Perhaps we give a little to a shelter around the holidays. But we hold back. Just like the rich young ruler, we hold back.
We keep enough to buy the latest iPhone. We save enough for a hefty retirement. We make sure we can afford cable television and name brand clothing and that nice television and…
We are the rich young ruler, living in 2013, we are guilty just as he was.
The pen of inspiration writes, “He (Jesus) gave him a test that would make manifest the selfishness of his heart. He showed him the plague spot in his character” (COL 392). The plague spot.
We have a plague spot on our character. When the books are closed and this world has passed away, will any of us wish that we had purchased a more expensive phone? Will we worry about not having worn nice enough clothing? Fret over the lack of television that we watched?
Doubtful. It’s far more likely that we’ll weep over those we didn’t help. Lament over those that suffered longer than they needed to because of our inaction.
Can we be extreme in a world of mediocrity?