Our hunger and thirst are not genuine enough if they do not drive us to take actions: finding food and eating. In the same token, the dream of a swimmer to become an Olympic swimmer is only wishful thinking if he consistently fails to show up in early morning training, but rather chooses a lifestyle of partying overnight, drinking and eating junk food. One cannot sincerely aspire to be an Olympic swimmer without seriously living a lifestyle of an athlete.
Similarly, many are hungry and thirst for deeper intimacy with the Lord. Our hunger and thirst are only wishful thinking in empty words if they do not cost us. Only few are genuinely hungry and thirsty enough to be willing to pay whatever price it takes to satisfy.
Life is a sum of all our choices, not by words we say, but by actions we willfully choose that reflect what the heart is full of.
Life is a sum of all our choices, not by the words we say, but by actions we willfully choose that reflect what the heart is full of. Both Abraham from the Old Testament and the rich young man from the New Testament were hungry and thirty for God. But they had drastically different outcome. What happened?
The Litmus Test of Lordship: the Lord asks for our First Love
What is the first love in people's lives differs from one person to the next. For some, it is their careers, for others, it may be their first-born child or loved ones, such as your spouse. Some choose wealth, comfort or health. Authentic lordship means there is nothing and no one that you love more than your love for the Lord Himself. Between your first love and the Lord, you always choose the Lord, not just once, but over again and again. Willingness to offer the Lord your first love is the litmus test of Lordship for everyone who wants to follow Him as His disciples.
The Lord asked Abraham for his first love by asking for his one and only child, born when he was one hundred years old, after a prolonged period of waiting. What thoughts would go through a parent's mind in that situation? For examples, I might never have another child at my age. Or how can I possibly kill my beloved only child with my own hands? Yes, the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice Issac as a burnt offering (Genesis 21:5, 22:2).
The Lord asked the rich young man for his first love by asking for his wealth. He had great wealth. Jesus asked him to sell everything he had, to give to the poor, and follow Him (Mark 10:21, 22).
Like His ask of Abraham and of the rich young man, He also asks us to offer Him the first love of our lives. When our heart is filled with other priorities higher than Christ, we are too preoccupied to make Him the center of our heart. He respects our choices and let us be.
However, when you demonstrate in concrete manner His worth in your heart by your obedience prompted by your faith in Him, it ushers in new experiences of Him in new dimensions that you have never experienced before. With these spiritual breakthroughs, your spiritual hunger and thirst are satisfied. Jesus' love language is our obedience to His commands (John 14:21). Growing deeper intimacy with Christ requires us to speak His love language.
Jesus' love language is our obedience to His commands.
Abraham's Response: Unequivocal Trust in God's Sovereignty
With such a demanding ask from the Lord, Abraham obeyed without delay at the earliest possible opportunity, as recorded, "early the next morning". Abraham went ahead to build an altar, arranged the wood, and bound his son on the altar on top of the wood, and took the knife out to slay his son, despite his own preferences and feelings (Genesis 22:3, 9-10). Then the angel of the Lord stopped him.
Abraham trusted God's sovereignty and goodness without any doubt, regardless of the circumstances. Firstly, he trusted that the Lord will provide the lamb for the offering (Genesis 22:8,13-14). Secondly, he reasoned that God could raise the dead for him to receive Isaac back from death (Hebrews 11:19).
What was the Lord looking for from us in His litmus test of lordship? The answer lies in how the Lord answered Abraham. The Lord wants to know, not by what we say, but by how we choose between Him and our first love, that we fear Him, and would not withhold our first loves from Him (Genesis 22:12).
The Rich Young Man's Response: Affirmation of Self-Sovereignty, Wanting Christ for a Relationship of Benefits
The rich young man, on the other hand, was a very self-absorbed man, taking pride in his self-sovereignty of religious performance, his keeping of the Ten Commandment since he was a boy (Mark 10:19-20). The only person he trusted was himself. Maintaining total control of his wealth and his life was his top priority.
The rich young man wanted Jesus for a relationship of benefits. He realized he lacked: the inheriting of eternal life (Mark 19:17), which he knew only Christ could give. It was clear that the rich young man was seeking the benefit of having eternal life from Jesus for his own sake, to complete his life. He was not seeking a relationship with Christ for who Jesus was, One who is worthy of worship. From his self-absorbed perspective, It makes no sense for him to leave such a 'secured' life to follow Jesus, losing control over his wealth and his life, to follow Christ, stepping to the unknown with no option but trusting Him. No matter how abundant and full that life in Christ maybe, he would not trade his self-sovereignty and control for it. For that, he lost his eternal life.
This is why Jesus said, "whoever want to save their life will lose it. But whoever loses their life for Me and for the gospel will save it (Mark 8:35)."
Who do you relate to? Abraham or the rich young man? I have a hunch that most north American Christians relate to the rich young man better than to Abraham. Let's not brush off his very consequential outcome and heed the warning from this rich young man's life. Despite Jesus' love for this rich young man (Mark 10:21), Jesus respected his choice and let him walk away.
Two Heaven vs Hell Outcome
Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. It was through the righteousness that comes by faith, Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world (Romans 4:3,13).
The rich young man, on the other hand, went away sad, with his face fell, and could not enter the kingdom of God (Mark 10:25), not receiving the eternal life that he sought.
Points to Ponder
Time to take out your spiritual journal and process these questions with the Lord.
When the Lord asks you to offer Him the first love of your life, what would He be asking for?
How would you choose between Jesus and your first love?
What do your choices say about Jesus' worth in our heart?
Do you have other loves over things or people that you withhold from the Lord?
Do you want Jesus for His benefit for your own sake, like the rich young man; or do you want Jesus because He is worthy of all your worship as Lord?
Dear heavenly Father, may the Holy Spirit open my spiritual eyes to see idols that I love, in relationships and in possessions, more than my love for Christ. I repent from being unfaithful to you as the Lord of my life. Lord, transform my heart and fill it with the faith of Abraham, so in my living days, I get to experience and show others your glory, through the immeasurable more (Ephesians 3:20) because of your presence and lordship in my life. Amen.
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