There are terms to every business transaction you and I engage in. “Deal terms” apply whether you’re buying a refrigerator, getting a new cell phone, leasing a car, financing a house loan, investing your retirement portfolio or negotiating how much ice cream you’re going to allow your grandchildren to eat in any one sitting. That last one, of course, always involves the toughest most complicated terms, as I always somehow end up on the short end of that deal. Buy I digress. The idea of terms and conditions can also apply to how you approach God. Do you approach Him on your own “terms” with specific conditions? Or do you allow yourself to submit to His terms? I believe the quality of your life, both now and in eternity, will depend on whether or not you submit to His terms in all areas of your life.
Let’s quickly look at a story from the New Testament in which a young ruler approaches Jesus and asks what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. The “terms” Jesus had for him were simple – just keep the Commandments. “You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:18-19) (NASB)
The Young man was self-righteous and declared to Jesus that he was already keeping all the Commandments. Jesus then told him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor. After hearing Jesus make this statement, the young man walked away grieving because he was rich, possessing great wealth, and Jesus’ words meant he would have to give up his affluent lifestyle. This, of course, was not meant to lay out “terms” that defined the act of philanthropy or the state of poverty as a prerequisite for salvation; but rather to expose the wealthy young man’s true heart.
What does this story have to do with you and I? Everything! Think about what Jesus is saying – and scripture continues to bear this out time and time again – regardless of the financial status, terms and conditions that define your life, it is the status, terms and conditions of your heart that truly count. What are the “terms” leading to eternal life that you and I must follow?
Financial advisors are quick to talk about all the risks that their clients face, including inflation risk, interest rate risk, tax risk, political risk and market risk. But what about eternal risk? The rich young ruler wanted to spend eternity in the presence of a loving God, but he refused to adhere to God’s terms. After all, “what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NIV)
He failed to understand the very crucial terms of gaining salvation and eternal life that Jesus was referring to, in that he was too self-righteous and did not recognize that the Law had nothing to do with behavior. But instead it had everything to do with his heart attitude (i.e. the idea that his financial status should not define him and should not be more important than his obedience to God’s terms). He did not recognize that he was guilty before a holy God and that in his heart he was separated from God, regardless of his verbalized desire. As far as the Law was concerned, he was not blameless.
Additionally, he was guilty of loving himself more than God and his neighbors. His love of possession was such a stumbling block that he rejected Jesus’ claim to Lordship of his life. Jesus was not saying that he had to be a great philanthropist to gain eternal life; Jesus was simply asking to be first place in this man’s life. Clearly, the young man failed the test when he walked away grieving.
The story about the rich young ruler is an example of possessions getting in the way of following the terms of a very simple transaction. You and I should be so careful that the same thing doesn’t happen. Are we making our possessions first place in our lives? Are we so concerned about raising our credit scores that we forget to raise our credit in heaven? Are you too busy thinking about your account balance that you’re not thinking about your eternal balance?
Now, of course I am NOT saying managing your wealth in a practical sense should be neglected. But I am saying that managing the terms of your financial transactions without sufficiently managing the terms and conditions of your heart as it pertains to how you approach your money in relationship to how you approach God, could lead to you walking away grieving.
Hopefully you’ve looked at the diagram above. There is a “Great Exchange” that takes place the moment that we make Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives. We must recognize our sin, and accept righteousness through his death on the Cross. As the picture shows, He takes on the burden of “Our Guilty Sins” and in return we get “Christs Righteousness.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become righteousness of God in Him.
My prayer for us all is that God will transform our thinking and enable us to build a stronghold of faith in Him, as we turn from anything in our lives that would replace Him as the center. Help us to remember that money is a tool and should not be the focus of our lives.
Thanks for reading! Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some chocolate-vanilla swirl deals I need to come to terms with before I see my grandchildren again. Thanks for reading! Take care and God Bless!