GIVE IT AWAY
I’ve been thinking about the biblical story of the rich young man who refused to give away his wealth for eternal life (Matthew 19). He seemed to be a nice guy, tried to follow the Law and be a good person. He might have been a little conceited since he started the conversation with misplaced confidence in himself, but nobody’s perfect, right?
Anyway, I started a “what-if” conversation in my mind. What if the rich young man had followed Abraham’s example? God asked Abraham to give up his most precious possession. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love… and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2)
Before I go further with these ramblings, let me address any skeptics who doubt the truth of the story. First, I am fully aware that anyone who hears voices telling him to kill somebody would be certifiably insane in today’s society. However, Abraham had been listening to God’s voice for almost a century. God had never steered him wrong. The man wasn’t crazy, nor was he demon-possessed. Second, over thousands of years, God has not made it a habit to instruct fathers to kill their sons. In fact, He speaks of the practice as abominable. So when He gave that order to Abraham, there had to be some good purpose in it.
By the end of the episode, we see the good accomplished. Abraham packs up what he needs except for the usual sacrificial animal. He travels to the designated spot, builds the altar, and lays Isaac on it. What was he thinking? I don’t know, but we can be sure of one thing. He trusted God for the outcome. Either God would raise Isaac back to life, or God would give him another son to fulfill the promise of a zillion descendants. He knew that if God asked something of him, it was worth doing.
God waited till Abraham raised the knife ready to slice Isaac’s throat, and He called a halt to the sacrifice. He repeated promises already made and added a few details. Abraham could rest in the knowledge that God would keep His word (Hebrews 11).
Back to the rich young man, one of those promised descendants. What if he had listed his assets, advertised sales on every item he possessed, and had begun to unload his wealth? Might God have called a halt? Or maybe He would’ve helped the man build another fortune once he had unburdened himself of the first fortune. Could he have enjoyed the challenge of making money followed by the delight of giving it away?
Hebrews 11 lists others who gave up everything to follow God. If you haven’t read biographies of modern missionaries, start with Lydia Prince’s Appointment in Jerusalem. Easy to read and inspiring, Lydia had her own “sacrificing Isaac” moment.
I believe God asks each of His followers to hand over something or someone precious, if for no other reason than to see where our trust really lies. Recently, He came to me with such a challenge, and I admit it’s excruciating to make the decision to trust God alone and give up what I love. The promised blessing is not instantaneous (Abraham never saw the promise fulfilled while living on this earth), but I’m trusting Him.
If God has asked the impossible of you, I can only point to these examples. Abraham trusted and obeyed, and his name is revered in the history of three major religions. Lydia Prince, like Abraham, emerged from the test with more faith in her God than ever. But the rich young man went away sad, no longer confident in his own “goodness,” and stubbornly holding on to his earthly possessions. I hope he changed his mind at some point. I hope he trusted Jesus and gave it all away.
Daily life is an adventure for Linda Samaritoni, and she loves to create metaphors comparing the spiritual and the earthly. Her blog, my2ndnature, is a way to share those metaphors. You can find them at www.my2ndnature.wordpress.com. Linda also contributes to the blog site www.thescriblerians.wordpress.com, “writing for non-adults of all ages.” She has been a semifinalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, as well as in the Storming the Short Story Contest. She recently won ACFW-San Francisco’s Elevator Fiction Contest, and in 2010 placed in the Top 100 of Writer’s Digest’s Annual Writing Competition.
Linda is married and has three sons and five grandchildren, the lights of her life, after Jesus! She makes sure to take time and smell the roses with the little ones before they grow up and start adventures of their own.