Get Yourself Free

Text:  Mark 10:17-22

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.”

This is not one of my favorite Bible verses because it constantly calls into question how I spend my time and money.  Even the folks who insist on taking the Bible literally usually seek some metaphorical interpretation for this text.  Is Jesus really asking us to get rid of our assets and give all to the poor?  Two major mistakes we make in interpreting this passage are saying “It’s all about  money” or “It’s not about money.”  Our focus this Sunday will really be on getting free from what enslaves us.

I had an amazing experience on April 1, 2003.  I was standing in the waiting room of the little airport in Victoria, Texas, with a piece of luggage in each hand.  What’s so amazing about that you may ask?  Well, with the exception of my books and a few pieces of furniture that I had stored at a buddy’s ranch outside of Comfort, those two bags held all my earthly possessions. 

My wife had gone to Guatemala a year earlier to study in a Spanish language school.  I had sold my house in Austin, all its furnishings and both cars.  I was about to catch a connecting flight to    Houston and then make the 2 hour and 15 minute flight to Guatemala City.  And I never felt so light in all my life.

I don’t suggest for a moment that I was following Jesus’ command to “sell everything you have.”  I had tons of money in the bank, medical insurance for every contingency, and was moving to a breathtakingly beautiful country where I could live like a king on $600 a month.  Rather, I will repeat myself.  With two bags containing all my worldly possessions, I never felt lighter and more joyful than in that moment. 

As we approach this Stewardship Sunday, I’m reminded of how my pastor always introduced the offering by saying, “God loves a cheerful giver.”  To this day, I can’t hear this clause without  hearing folks shuffling to retrieve wallets or the sounds of purses snapping.  Our text is pushing us to reflect, not on what will make God happy, but what will make us feel free and grateful. Join with us.

—Paul