There was a young judge in Israel with lots of money. Perhaps he inherited his wealth and thought he could inherit eternal life. In any case, he framed his question to Jesus this way . . .
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. (Luke 18:18–23)
This man did not hesitate. His wealth was more important to him than ‘earning’ eternal life. In other words, he was not willing to give up his wealth to follow Jesus. Not that this is a requirement for the free gift of eternal life, but anyone invited into the kingdom of God with carrying any baggage has little hope of serving the Lord with their whole heart.
Eternal life is free, but when Jesus comes in, I must give up my right to rule my own life. I realize that all I have and all that I am belong to Him. He empowers me to turn from the sin that masters me so I can choose to serve Him instead. Eternal life isn’t about money or possessions; but it is about everything.
Another thing that I can yield to Him is everything that I don’t have, such as the fulfillment of my personal ambition and desires, whether they are ‘good’ or sinful. I invited Him to be Lord of my life and can expect Him to check out my commitment. Do I mean what I say? Certainly He does. He promises to transform me into His image; He will do whatever is necessary to bring me to that place.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:1–8)
In humility, Jesus set aside His rights and became obedient to His Father. He considered others more important than Himself. He did not cling to His deity but became one of us that we might become like Him.
How can this happen? Chambers says I am to “undress (myself) morally before God of everything that might be a possession until (I am) a mere conscious human being, and then give God that.” He says that the tests will come as hard sayings, “only easy when heard by those who have His disposition.”
He adds that just as pride in myself and my stuff can ruin my Christian walk, I can also be proud of my poverty and being a nobody that will also ruin my Christian walk. Pride is pride. Instead, I must be “destitute of the sense that I am destitute.”
Chambers adds that discouragement is disenchanted self-love. (“Why am I not better than I am?”) I can even be proud of my devotion to Jesus, one of many forms of self-love, which also includes two traits like the rich ruler: a tight-fist and a conviction that I know what is good for me and Jesus does not.