What girl doesn’t love a good wedding? Even this non-emotional girl can admit that sometimes a tear will be shed on account of two dear friends, or perfect strangers for that matter, committing their lives together in the beautiful picture of marriage. I’ve been in my fair share of weddings as well. There’s nothing more exciting than getting that phone call or text or even nowadays a box filled with an elaborately decorated card that has the perfect little poem written on it and a cute little wedding dress shaped cookie inside. I’m calling out to all you friends out there that had me in your wedding…where’s my cookie?? But eventually after the cookie has been devoured, you realize there’s more to this gig than meets the eye. There’s the dress, the hair, the nails, the showers, the gifts. And you must quickly put on your big girl panties and make your mind up that if you’re going to commit to this, it’s going to cost you something. This is a labor of love (disclaimer: I LOVED being in every wedding I was in. Totally worth the drowning bank account). But I wonder sometimes if similarly we don’t count the cost of what it means to love Jesus and to follow Him.
Jesus’ conversation with a rich young man in Mark 10:17-25 teaches us about loving Christ first in our lives. When I read this story, I feel a deep sadness for this man who walked away from Jesus. But I’m thankful that we can also learn from his story.
God has given us a few commands to follow in obedience to Him (verses 17-19). They may have been written way before our time frame, but Jesus reminds us that they are still important for our faith today. He reminds the rich man the importance of obeying these commands. The question could be asked, “what does that obedience stem from?” The answer is simple. Love. John 14:15 couldn’t spell it out any clearer. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” You see friends, this is not just some boring list of rules to follow if you want to be “good.” If you try that route, you’ll never get there. Jesus even points out that no one is good except God alone. If that’s the case, then I would submit to you that obedience is simply our love letter to God. When we love God with all of our hearts, the natural outpouring of our heart is obedience. I bet you will find that when you make loving God your priority, then obedience won’t seem like such a chore.
Jesus does not just give us commandments to obey; He requires our love and devotion first (verses 20-22). He told the rich man one last thing to do, “sell all you posses…..and come follow me.” It was a plea for him to get rid of the things he loved more than Jesus. The rich man simply couldn’t do it and walked away sad and grieving. This is the point of the story where I want to yell STOP, you dummy! COME BACK. But then I think to myself how many times have I been the dummy. I put something else ahead of my desire to follow Jesus. Let me just tell you, I’ve done it too many times to count. But Jesus never forces anyone to follow Him. He gives every person a choice. But with that choice comes a cost. Obedience is the cost that we must count when loving Jesus first. The beauty of loving Jesus though is that when we choose Him, He doesn’t leave us to figure it out ourselves. When we fail to put Him first, He will always come after us and call us back to follow Him. Count the cost. Obey Him. Follow Him. He WILL be faithful.
When we make Christ our first love and surrender our lives to Him, we will inherit the Kingdom of God (verses 23-25). The rich man couldn’t see it. It was too hard for him to see past his earthly possessions to give Jesus his full heart. I don’t know about you, but it’s really hard for me to picture a camel going through the eye of a needle. I’d hate to be that camel. Or any camel for that matter. But can you see how hard it will be to experience The Kingdom if our heart is set on what we can only see on this earth? Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” There is the key. If our treasure is with Jesus, then His Kingdom is guaranteed. Where is your treasure? As we can see with the rich man, giving up our own desires to love and follow Jesus isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Love Him first, and you’ll experience the riches of His Kingdom forever.
When I think about loving my Jesus, I could just melt into a puddle of tears. His love is constant. It is faithful. It is unconditional. How could I give him anything but 100% of my love in return? My heart has been satisfied with a love that none other could fill. And this heart longs to serve and obey Him first.
So what does that look like for you? Well, you’ve got to ask yourself first and foremost, do you love Jesus? If your answer is yes, then are you obeying Him out of that love or out of obligation? Then also ask yourself where your treasure really lies. Look deep in your heart and be honest. Think about it this way. Your boyfriend (those of you who don’t have a boyfriend, YAY you just got one!) says, “Listen, I really love you. Really. But I’m going to do what makes me happy and hang out with my bros all weekend hunting, playing video games, and playing in the dirt” (because let’s be real, that’s about all that guys do). You would definitely NOT be ok with that. He’d be on the next train to the doghouse. You can see how that just doesn’t make logical sense.
Put away anything that is taking first place over Jesus in your heart. Count the cost of what it will really take to follow him. And if your answer to loving Jesus was no, I’m pleading with you sister, don’t give up on Him. He is sweetly and gently calling to you to “cast your cares on Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). I could melt in a puddle of tears all over again just thinking about His sweet voice calling out to you dear friend. Don’t give up on Him, and He wont give up on you.
It’s hard to think about the rich man after the telling of his story. You’ll never convince me that he lived happily ever after with his money and possessions. I believe he missed the mark completely and lived with regret for the rest of his life. You have the same choice. Will you count the cost?
Jesus, Your love for me is incomparable. I can not thank You enough for loving me. Give me the strength and the wisdom to choose You every single day, to love You first even when the world threatens to stand in the way. You are worthy of my whole heart, and I give it to You freely in obedience.