By Dr. Foster H. Shannon
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:20)
All of us who believe in Jesus Christ should have a hearty desire to grow in his grace. Christianity is not static; it is dynamic. We are not to stand still. We are to grow in our Savior. I Peter 2;2,3, “As new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby. If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” So how do we grow? We are to be faithful students of the word of God. We are to assess our God-given talents and find ways to serve him. This means that we set aside a time each day that belongs to the Lord, to study his word, meditate on it, and pray.
“O Lord, in the morning you do hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you, and watch.” (Psalm 5:3)
Not infrequently, there are things that stand in our way, not bad in themselves, nonetheless, we have to be freed from them that we may love God and walk with our Saviour. Thus, the analogy of the runner in Hebrews 12:1,
“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,”
The runner could legally carry weights, but he does not want to, because they would impede him. In Luke 18:18-25, we have the account of the rich ruler who came to Jesus asking how he could have eternal life. He addressed Jesus as “good teacher”. Jesus responded, how did you know that I am good, since only God is good? Jesus listed a number of the commandments for him, and the rich man affirmed that he had observed them since his youth. Jesus told him that he lacked one thing:
“Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The message here is that one cannot be saved simply by keeping the commandments (because no one can keep them fully and completely). We are not saved by works, but by faith. Salvation is a gift. I believe that Jesus was telling this man that there was an obstacle between himself and God that had to be dealt with. He was in love with his riches instead of in love with God. Jesus gave him an amazing offer: that he was to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and become a follower of Jesus. Jesus understood that what he owned stood between him and God. Jesus wanted to set him free. If we find ourselves loving property, or adventure, or fame more than God, we are on the wrong path. Peter and Andrew, James and John gave up their fishing business to follow Jesus. It is good for us to look within ourselves for those things that we love more than we love God. Our salvation is not in our good deeds, but in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, whereby he paid for all of our sins in offering himself on the cross in place of our punishment. All of us have things that we must leave when we come to the cross.