Scratching the Surface
James M. Boice
It is not only the greatness of the blessings promised by Jesus that encourages us in His service. Their security encourages us too. The young man turned away from Christ because he was unwilling to part with his possessions (see Matthew 19:16-30), but it is an irony of the story that he turned from possessions that were certain to possessions that were at best uncertain. Maybe he lost those possessions before the year was out. Maybe his gold was stolen. His land could have been taken. As in the prodigals' case, his friends could have grown cold and abandoned him.
This point can be made even stronger. God often allows the ungodly to amass great wealth--to their destruction. But if you are one with whom God is dealing and if you put the pursuit of riches (or anything else) before service to Christ, God may take away those riches (and other things) until you turn to Him.
Some years ago Donald Grey Barnhouse was counseling a young woman on the sidewalk in front of Tenth Presbyterian Church following an evening service. She said she was a Christian and that she wanted to follow Christ. But she wanted to be famous too. She wanted to pursue a stage career in New York. "After I have made it in the theatre, I'll follow Christ completely," she said.
Barnhouse took a key out of his pocket and scratched a mark on a postal box standing on the corner. "That is what God will let you do," he said. "God will let you scratch the surface of success. He will let you get close enough to the top to know what it is, but he will never let you have it, because He will never let one of His children have anything rather than Himself."
Years later he met the girl again, and she confessed that this had indeed been her life story. She had dabbled in the stage. Once her picture had been in a national magazine. But she had never quite made it. She told Barnhouse, "I can't tell you how many times in my discouragement I have closed my eyes and see you scratching on that postal box with your key. God let me scratch the edges, but He gave me nothing in place of Himself."
How different for those who deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus. Their path begins with denial but ends in fulfillment and the blessing given cannot be snatched away. (From Christ's Call to Discipleship by James M. Boice)
APPLICATION What is your attitude when it comes to success? Is reaching the pinnacle your real god? Ask God to show you what has first place in your heart. Pray today, with first place given to God.
EXPLORATION Arrogance--Judges 8:1-3; 3 Samuel 17:11-13; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Psalm 10:11; Acts 12:23; Ephesians 2:11-13.
The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus; Max Lucado General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, New Century Version