Charles Whatley: Get rid of barrriers
What does it mean to be rich? Some people would talk about money and things; others would talk about a deeper satisfaction having little or nothing to do with money. I’ll never forget my dad saying he was worth two million dollars, because he wouldn’t take a million dollars for either one of his two children. I tell people I have more than Bill Gates, because I wouldn’t take all the money he has in exchange from my grandchildren!
Maybe you, like I do, read those checkout line magazines, and I’m always fascinated by the stories of the celebrities. They are some of the richest people in our society… and some of the most miserable people in our society. It seems that money can make you happy (I’m happy I have some!), but the more you love it the less happy it makes you? Maybe John Wesley was right when he said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:16-22)
Early in my ministry, a young couple came to me after they’d read these verses. They’d talked and prayed about it and were ready to sell all they had and give it to the poor. We talked about it and finally decided that if they were willing to sell everything, they really didn’t need to sell it.
God said that to a young man who loved his “things” more than he loved God, and the only way he could love God with all his heart and mind and soul and body was to divest himself of all his “things.”
So the lesson is not that we ought to sell everything; the real lesson is that we need to discover what in our lives stands between us and our full and total surrender to God… and then divest ourselves of it. What keeps me from being filled with God’s Spirit? What keeps me from celebrating Pentecost?
Charles ‘Buddy’ Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland and Bold Springs UMC, a marketplace chaplain, and with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.