A certain ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother.'" He replied, "I have kept all these since my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." But when he heard this, he became sad; for he was very rich. Luke 18: 18-23 (NRSV)
In 2017, Steve Wakefield, from Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud. Due to the felony conviction, he was required to surrender his CPA license, which meant that he had to physically return his certificate. As he began removing the certificate from its frame, Steve started to cry when he saw the label that read "Main Street Framing." His parents had been so proud that they had his certificate framed in his hometown.
This experience made Steve think of the wealthy ruler in Luke 18. Up until this point, Steve had gone to church and lived a pretty straight-and-narrow life, but he had always put his career, success, and money before God.
If we are intent on living an abundant and successful life, we will place a greater value on God and our relationship with God than on our worldly success, career, material possessions, or anything else that stands between us and God. When we put God first and seek to follow God's will in all that we do, we will have everything that we need. Only then can we experience true success.
Times are tough right now for many of us, but we need to remember to keep our eyes on God and not on our circumstances.
Prayer: Dear God, shape our hearts and desires so that we can follow your will for our lives, even when times are tough, in Jesus' name, amen.