Luke 5 27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
The Lord requires we carry nothing to distract us from what He would have us do in His service. When he sent out the disciples, he told them to take nothing, so that they would not be distracted with the things they carried over the preaching and ministry they were assigned to do.
I’ve heard the Gospel of Matthew referred to as the ‘testimony of Jesus’ enemies’ (Pr. James McDonald, Walk in the Word Ministries). The phrase stuck with me because it amazed me to realize that even your enemies can see the Power of G-d in your life, and come against it. But the Lord is our vindicator in these matters, and indeed, sets a table before us in their presence, that we might either make peace, or watch the Lord move them aside, as He fights our battles.
While the tax collectors weren’t necessarily enemies to Christ, their corruption and greed were widespread and well known, and Jesus often preached the evil of riches in the hands of greedy, corrupt men. So when He calls us to Him, we, like Matthew, must leave behind earthly treasures.
In Luke 18:18-23 we read the account of the rich young ruler:
18 Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
19 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ”[a]
21 And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.”
22 So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
This was the only thing that separated him from the kingdom of God, but it was also the greatest thing, and he chose it over the kingdom. His heart was in the right place, but it was not prepared. Many of the things Jesus spoke about doing regarding wealth escaped the understanding of those who had it, as it was in this instance.
Yet when Matthew, called Levi then, heard the voice and saw the love in the countenance of Jesus, he left everything: his books, his writing tools, possibly even the stashes of overage he collected that day, and had a feast that night, as much to celebrate his own freedom as to honor Jesus.
The widow gave all with her two mites, and even Zacchaeus, called out of a tree by name, gave half his wealth to the poor, and paid quadruple what he stole by the time Jesus was done, and the Lord blessed the tax collector’s house by saying it was now under salvation
So we see there is a spiritual currency for following Jesus, a currency for faith, and many of us are not sure we’re willing to pay sometimes. Yet Jesus makes several references to this currency throughout His ministry. He speaks of casting unprofitable servants into outer darkness, he speaks of being unfruitful, and counting the cost of taking up our crosses, and leaving everything, never to go back again. He speaks of taking on work we are not able to finish when we fail to count that cost.
And it is to our earthly shame, and our eternal peril that we do so.
Therefore I pray:
Lord, let me be willing to leave all for the sake of following You.
Don’t let my emotions of doubt and fear and loneliness lead me into temptation, where I would blame Your absence for my present, yet transitory plight.
Help me to empty my hands and heart of idols of my own making, however temporary, for tomorrow is not promised to me, and I would not die in sin.
Help me to know that my heavenly mansion is financed by my heavenly treasure, for I will take nothing with me from this world when my time is done, except a spotted soul made spotless by Your holy blood, which redeems me into the kingdom, that I may achieve what you say is the chief end of man: to glorify G-d and to enjoy Him forever.
In Your Name I ask it, believing I have received.