Becoming spiritually mature means learning how to let certain things go.
Our bad habits need to go away.
Our stuff-based view of self-worth needs to go away.
Our willingness to worship extra gods or belief systems needs to go away.
And clearly, our dark moments of selfish untruthfulness need to go away.
When we make these choices, we become more like Jesus.
And we provide to God the Father more of what He desires from us.
Today’s readings in the One-Year Bible were quite interesting. I was reminded through multiple texts in different books of how prone we humans are to associating confidence with our measure of control over life and our measure of material possessions.
The Bible is clear in its teaching that our efforts as controllers and consumers might generate personal satisfaction for a season — if we’re really sharp — but it will never generate eternal blessing.
And that’s what really counts, isn’t it?
Today’s Old Testament reading recounted the plagues against Pharaoh. He was repeatedly told to let the people of Israel go so that they could worship in the wilderness.
He repeatedly refused to let them go because he was unwilling to let go of his control over their lives.
He eventually did let go, however, but only after he suffered the devastating death of his first son and witnessed the deaths of all Egyptian firstborn sons.
If Pharaoh would have let go of control, he and the nation wouldn’t have suffered as they did.
God’s will was ultimately done, despite Pharaoh’s foolish self-confidence that cost him far more than it needed to.
He didn’t let go and it cost him terribly.
In Matthew 19, I read of the rich, young ruler who felt very good about his lifestyle fidelity to scripture and came to Jesus with a desire for advice on what to do to earn eternal life.
What this wealthy man didn’t plan, on though, was Christ’s instruction to sell everything he had and give the proceeds to the poor.
And then the young man was to leave his neatly constructed world and follow Jesus.
As you know, the young man was not willing to let go of his stuff and his life situation.
If he had, he would not have suffered the deep, haunting disappointment of knowing that his passion for possessions was greater than his relationship with God.
Not only was this young man asked to let go of a “stuff” mentality, but also Christ’s apostles.
Did they embrace the teaching? Far from it.
It’s clear from this chapter that the apostles associated wealth with God’s favor. If this wealthy guy couldn’t make it because of his wealth, they asked, then who could?
Jesus, fortunately, told them that the reward for genuinely letting go in this life would be a hundredfold blessing in the next life.
All but Judas did reach the point of letting go and were used mightily by God as a result.
The reading for the day also contained Psalm 24, a marvelous message about letting go.
The foundation for letting go is laid in verse 1.
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”
Nothing we hold in our hands is really ours.
He created it.
He provided it.
He planted it.
And He harvests it.
All the fruit is His property anyway, right?
This being the case, our focus should not be on what is in our hands but instead what is in our hearts.
This is the opposite of how the world thinks and lives.
But so was the life of Jesus.
Jesus is seated at the right hand of God because of what was in His heart while on earth, not what was in His hands.
I want to close with the four signs of a heart whose hope is based on faith, not stuff.
These signs are characteristic of faith that has learned to let go.
“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”
Clean hands? Pure heart? Not worshiping earthly items? Always telling the truth?
I am so glad that it doesn’t take wealthy hands to do these things, but instead a wealthy heart.
Please, join me in letting stuff go. There will be more room in our hearts for God as we do.
There will be more of a harvest for God.
And there will also be more room in our heavenly mansions.
As always, I love you