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Part II

Peter, after hearing what the Lord said, replied: “we have left all we had to follow you,” as if he meant, “What then will happen to us?” The Lord’s answer shows it is well to leave all, for He said: anyone who has left house or wife or brother or sister or parents or children for My sake and for the sake of the kingdom of God will receive many times more in this time, and in the world to come, eternal life. He does desire us to follow Him and to forsake all for His sake and the gospel’s sake.

Young believers need to know that unless they forsake all they cannot follow the Lord. We have a good example of this in the twelve apostles. When they were called by the Lord, they gladly left their boats, nets, and all and followed Him. They did not delay. How we thank God for new believers like them. But even those who delay to respond like the young ruler, are shown a way to follow the Lord. With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

The Lesson of Zacchaeus
Zacchaeus was a Jew, but he worked for the Roman government. He was an enemy of his fellow Jews because he cooperated with the Roman Empire. He helped the Roman Empire collect taxes from his own people. Furthermore, he was a sinner. He did not have a good character like the young ruler who kept the commandments from his youth. Like other tax collectors, he was greedy and got as much as he could. He had got a bad image. Yet, the Lord Jesus passed by. Great is His power to attract people to Him. “No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him” (John 6:44). So this tax collector was drawn by God to His Son. Due to his height, Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus. The Lord looked at him but did not preach a sermon to him. He did not say, “You must repent and confess your sins,” nor did He blame him for getting a lot form the people and being greedy; neither did He tell him to sell all, give to the poor, and follow Him. No sermon was preached, just a few simple words were said: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for today I must stay at your house.”
It was just a personal contact with this sinner. A heart which desired the Lord was met by the Lord who chose him. Zacchaeus knew nothing at all of any teaching.

The people standing around at that time began to complain. They thought it was not right for Jesus of Nazareth to go into a house of a sinner. They all knew Zacchaeus and what sort of a person he was. As soon as they heard what the Lord said, they felt hurt.
Take note of this. The Lord did not preach any message, but simply said, “I must stay at your house.” That simple word, however, was enough. Actually, He had not yet come to Zacchaeus’ house; He merely suggested that He was coming. But this was enough, for wherever the Lord is, there the love of money departs. When He comes, all those problems are solved. His desiring to go to Zacchaeus’ house was as powerful as if He were already there. Just that simple statement, “I must stay at your house,” made Zacchaeus not as rich because he stood and declared, “Look, Lord, here and now I give half my possessions and goods to the poor; and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

The young ruler was encouraged by the Lord to follow Him, but he failed to obey; Zacchaeus was not even told anything very serious and yet he fully followed the Lord’s wish. Both were rich, and generally speaking, the older a person is the more he loves money. But here it was the older one who gave up his money. The young ruler represents “impossible with men,” whereas Zacchaeus represents “possible with God.” To sell all and follow the Lord is not a small matter. To do so is not easy, for who would be willing to forsake his wealth? Unless he had gone mad, no man would give up all his possessions at once. But the story of Zacchaeus shows us that what is impossible for man is possible for God. Zacchaeus did what the Lord wished without hearing or accepting any message. This shows how easily it can be done with God.

When God is at work, the camel passes through the needle’s eye. In Luke 18 a camel reaches around the needle’s eye but fails to go through, but in chapter 19 that camel quickly passes through the eye of the needle. Chapter 18 tells us it is impossible with men; chapter 19 shows us all things are possible with God. Because to the world, selling all is madness, but for those looking to the Lord it can be quickly done.

How could Zacchaeus do this? Because, first, he was a son of Abraham, and second, salvation had come to his house that day. He did it, not because he himself was able to nor because he had cried and prayed and meditated in his heart on all that the Lord had said, and had finally surrendered. He did not surrender a bit today and a bit tomorrow until he was forced to surrender all. Neither by determination nor by struggling nor by consideration did he do it. The Lord said “today salvation has come to this house”. Salvation is power to save. This power saved Zaccheus from the love of money. Money controls us with its power because we have not allowed the Lord’s salvation power to help us.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). This is a famous verse in Christianity. The Son of Man came to do one thing, to seek those who are lost in wealth. All who love money are lost persons. The Lord today is seeking for such lost ones. He found Zacchaeus and He found us too. We were once lost, but now the Lord has found us. Therefore, our problems likewise can be solved. Money will lose its power over us.

God’s Way for Today
Take note of these two chapters, Luke 18 and 19: in the one the young ruler was told by the Lord to sell all, but went away sad; in the other Zacchaeus gave up all without even being asked. In His days on this earth our Lord required people to forsake all and follow Him. Likewise the church, when it was beginning, did the same thing. In Acts 2 and 4 we find that at the beginning of the church all things are held in common; that is, not one of the believers said that any of the things he possessed was his own. In other words, the hand of the Lord was upon all those who were saved. Once they had gained eternal life, their possessions began to lose their power over them, and, in quite an easy and natural way, they sold their houses and properties.

This is a good way of life for us today that come to follow the Lord; it should also be quite easy for us that our many things be touched by His saving power. Our attitude should be changed so that we no longer see these these things as our own. No one then will say that this or that thing belongs to me. No one will claim anything as his own. Whatever there is, you may use it just as much as I may. Whatever money there is in my pocket may be put in your pocket as well. Whatever clothes I have, you may wear them too. This is the attitude one must have towards possessions. From my own personal life let me tell you something which may sound like a joke. For nearly twenty years, I have had the habit of buying many things at once. Some brothers wonder why I buy so much. For example: I need a pair of sunglasses. So I say to the Lord, “O God, if You really want to give me a pair of sunglasses, then You must give me six pairs.” Why? Because I feel more peaceful wearing my sunglasses after I have given away five pairs to the brothers. Those brothers and sisters who have known me over the years know this habit of mine. Usually I purchase in dozens, though I only use one.

Let us not hold on to things too tightly. This cloth of mine—maybe the Lord does not want me to have it permanently; maybe it should be given away tomorrow. Therefore it is better that I make two or three clothes instead of one. This is what we should maintain. Every time we buy things, we should not think only of ourselves but of others as well. This is not to say that we should not buy anything new; it simply suggests that there must always be the habit of having all things in common. We should never think of ourselves only but should always maintain the good habit of having all things in common.
What, then, is the lesson God from God? First of all, let us learn not to be rooted in this world, but to hold all things loosely. To be so delivered from the things of the world is not a small matter. How selfish the people of this world are!
The more we read the second and fourth chapters of Acts, the more we are convinced that we should not hold on to anything, but should rather hold all things in common. God’s children must be free towards other children of God. Whether or not we actually sell our property and give to the poor, the feeling is the same. We must be willing to share with others. Let us not hold onto anything, even to such a small thing as a knife or a pen. We need to let all things go. If we obey in this, God will not allow us to have less; He will even give us more.
So, this is the example of the early church. In the beginning, the twelve disciples said to the Lord, “We have left our own, and followed you.” During Pentecost, at the first revival, the three thousand and the five thousand quite naturally did the same thing. This is what the church has been practicing throughout the centuries. And this is what we too must do today. It would be bad if such a practice is not continued.

God or Mammon
Let us return to Matthew 6 where it says we can only serve one master. We cannot serve God and mammon. Mammon (or riches) is an idol which many have served over the past years. Such service holds our hearts tightly. Now, though, if we are going to serve God, we must choose whom to serve—God or mammon. We cannot serve both. What does the Lord say? “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). Once a brother told me: “My treasure is on earth but my heart is in heaven.” Such a brother is a liar because the Lord says it cannot be. However, the word of the Lord is very clear. One’s heart always follows the treasure. There is no escape from it. No matter how one reasons, his heart goes after his treasure.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth” (Matt. 6:19). If you do, you will end up serving mammon and not God. You cannot serve both God and mammon. You must choose either one or the other. How dangerous it would be to choose mammon, for such treasure is subject to moth and rust and thieves. Let us, therefore, learn to serve God. Let us give all that we have to God and maintain the simplest kind of life here on this earth.


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