“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.” ~ Luke 25:33
That right there might be one of the most challenging sentences Jesus ever said. Especially to us modern readers. We sure do love our stuff, don’t we?
This fact hit home for me last year when we were on vacation in Colorado. It was kind of a cool day, even for early June, so when my daughters wanted me to get in the hot tub with them at the hotel pool, I was all about it. For about 5 seconds.
Then I remembered my iPhone was in my pocket.
For the next several days, I felt completely lost. Literally. Since I was on vacation when it happened, I couldn’t get anywhere without the trusty map on my phone. I couldn’t call anybody. Not only did I not have a phone to make the call, but I didn’t have any phone numbers – they were all stored in my contacts. On my phone.
It’s not just my phone. I could do that to an extent with everything I own. Every little thing in my possession has some kind of baggage attached to it. With each item, I could go through a list of why I can’t live without it. Or at least why I can’t get rid of it.
Then there are things that I don’t use that come with a serving of guilt on the side. I can’t get rid of that shirt because it was a gift. I need to wear it. I haven’t read this book. But I need to. I will. I should. At some point.
All of these things, all of this stuff in my life, come with a price. I don’t mean what I paid for it. I mean that little bit of attention in my brain that I subconsciously give to it, just because I own it. And all of this attention adds up. This is attention that I could be giving to things that matter: to my family, to helping and loving others. You know, the eternal things. The things of God.
This is why Jesus tells us to consider the cost of following him. It costs nothing in that it is the simplest decision we’ll ever make. But at the same time, it costs everything. Every thing, every habit, every goal, every relationship, every possession. All of these things get in the way of following Jesus. And that’s why he wants us to give them up.
To be clear, I don’t necessarily think he wants us to literally get rid of these things. For some of us he might. If you feel called to give some things away please don’t let me stand in the way of that. But for most of us, the giving up happens in the spiritual realm. It involves holding everything we have with a loose grip. We realize that God has given us everything, and we are to use it to his glory.
Ask yourself some tough questions. Do I own my things, or do they own me? Are there some things in my life that I “can’t live without”? I would start there. Put them before God and see what you need to do about it. Perhaps you need to hold them with a looser grip. Or maybe, just maybe, you need to give them away.
Fasting could help in this area. Give up your phone for a day. Park your car for a weekend and ride your bike. Or bum a ride – maybe you could use the company. Little breaks like this give us a chance to recalibrate our priorities so we can always keep God first.
Life’s too short to be worried about things that don’t last. Instead, focus on eternal things. You won’t regret it.