By Femi Aribisala
Today there are oh so many wonderful Christians who lack just one thing.
The rich young ruler, our fabled Central Bank governor, comes to Jesus earnestly wanting to know what to do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus says to him: “You know the commandments, go ahead and obey them?” The man replies: “Oh, I have already obeyed them. As a matter of fact, I mastered them from the age of seven. I have been obeying them from my youth. I gave my life to Christ twenty years ago. I know the bible from Genesis to Revelation.”
As a result, the man shipwrecks at the report God gave to Isaiah: “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’” (Isaiah 57:15).
Our Central Bank governor is determined to climb the Mount Everest of eternal life. Therefore, Jesus gives him one simple task to perform: “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.’” (Mark 10:21).
Suddenly, instantaneously; this wonderfully earnest Christian loses all interest in eternal life: “At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” (Mark 10:22).
It is like in the days of Noah, when there were oh so many “Christians;” so many mighty men and women of God. But alas, they all perished in the Flood. They lacked one thing; just one thing. They failed to get into the ark. So today there are oh so many wonderful Christians who lack just one thing. It is only one thing, but it is the main thing. It is only one thing but because of that one thing heaven is brass. It is only one thing but because of that one thing we continue to fail, even at the edge of breakthrough.
Because of that one thing our relationships fail. Because of that one thing, the enemy always has the last laugh in our life. Because of that one thing, our spiritual life has remained stagnant and we stand at a dead end. Yes, it is only one thing but that one thing is needful. Although Martha is a good and diligent Christian, working faithfully in the vineyard of the Lord, it is actually Mary who has chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42).
Every one of us has question-marks pertaining to our faith and our righteousness. There are some blemishes, some stains, some wrinkles; some flies in our ointment. They are little foxes, but they spoil the whole vineyard. (Song 2:15).
Naaman was a great and honourable man. He was rich and highly exalted in society. He was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Syria. He was a military hero; a mighty man of valour. He was decorated with national honours for his military prowess. His people looked up to him as saviour. But one thing was missing and evident to all. There was one major shortcoming in Naaman, the lion-heart: he was a leper.
Bartmaeus might have been a handsome man. He might have been intelligent. He might have had unusual insight. But who cares? Nobody called him intelligent Bartimaeus or handsome Bartimaeus. Everyone knew him as blind Bartimaeus. The one thing Bartimaeus lacked was the one thing used to define him. The one thing he lacked was the devil’s weapon against his life. The one thing he lacked was the little leaven that leavened his whole lump. (Galatians 5:9). It was the little yeast that fermented his whole bread.
Therefore, it is imperative to go periodically before the Lord for spiritual check-ups. Ask God: “What are those things I still lack?” Believe me; you will discover they are there by the lorry-load. We need to know what they are, not because we can do anything about them, but in order to ask God for healing. We need to ask for deliverance by he who can save to the uttermost. We need to look continually into God’s perfect law of liberty and make the necessary corrections.
Ask for help
The refusal to do this was the downfall of our Central Bank governor. He did not say to Jesus: “Lord you got me there. I thought I could do all things, but clearly, I cannot bring myself to forsake all I have. Can you help me to do it? Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Lord, I would like to inherit eternal life, but I don’t want to lose my life. Can you help me?
Jesus would then have replied in characteristically merciful fashion: “Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” “Be of good cheer; be healed of your infirmity. Go, and sin no more.”
No! The rich young Central Bank governor walked away. He lost all interest in eternal life. He claimed that he had kept all the commandments of God from his youth, but he had actually kept none. All the commandments are encapsulated under one: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).
However, this great Christian loved his possessions more than he loved the Lord his God.
Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Lord Jesus had no place to lay his head in this man’s life. Every room in the inn of his heart was occupied by his earthly possessions.
There is great danger in the Christian presumption of spiritual strength, for by strength shall no man prevail. Our so-called strengths are far more dangerous for us spiritually than our weaknesses. Our weaknesses carry us to God: but our strengths take us away from him. It is dangerous to be strong in ourselves. The Lord himself must be our strength. The strength of the Lord is made perfect in our weakness.
Jesus, our great physician, has no ministry for those that are whole. He has come for the poor, the meek, the broken-hearted, the mournful and the sorrowful. He says: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13).
In contrition, David makes no promises to God. Lord Jesus, he pleads, I am not going to make resolutions I cannot fulfil. Unless you help me, I know for sure that I will sin again against you: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10).
I cannot do anything unless you first do something Lord. I cannot be anything unless you make me that thing, Jesus. “Revive me,” says the psalmist, “and then I will call upon your name.” (Psalm 80:18). “Draw me,” says the Shulamite, “and I will run after you.” (Song of Solomon 1:4). Without you, Lord Jesus, I can do nothing.