What’s Keeping You from Taking Jesus’ Hand?

You are on a sinking ship and need to evacuate. The next closest ship is hours away and life preservers are the only chance of survival. The ship’s crew begins handing out the flotation devices while you look on, hands full of your earthly possessions. The captain says, “If you want to survive, you must empty your hands, leave everything behind, and cling to a life preserver.”

What do you do?

In the story of the rich young ruler (Luke 18), the ruler chooses his wealth over eternal life with Jesus himself. To receive Jesus, all the ruler needed to do was to open his hands on the things he had allowed to control him—his possessions, wealth, and independence. And in a sad turn of events, the man refused the hand of Jesus because he wouldn’t let the money slip through his fingers first.

I’m convinced that all of us have “one thing” (one main thing, anyway) that vies for our devotion to Jesus. For most of us, like the rich young ruler, this “one thing” is money.


When it comes to giving, for instance, many churchgoers don’t even give a tithe (that is, 10 percent of their income). Sure, the tithe isn’t some iron-clad rule in the New Testament, and there are exceptions. But the tithe is consistently presented in the Bible as a minimum requirement for kingdom stewardship. True generosity, Jesus says, usually starts after giving the tithe, as God grows your desire to increase your giving. So if you’re not giving a tithe, is Jesus really Lord of your money?

Statistically, the wealthier you are, the less you give. It seems that the more you gain, the more you begin to displace God as the one you trust and delight in. But 2 Corinthians 9 says that as God increases your income, your giving should also increase. Regardless of our income, our first and best should always go to him. The Kingdom of God has opportunities in front of it now, and God has called us to take advantage of those opportunities.

And don’t try some spiritual jiujitsu, using your wealth to gain purposeful assets but then claiming you’re “giving to God.” I’ve heard it said, “Pastor, we used our tithe money to help buy this really big house—but we’re going to host our small group there,” or “We used our money to get a beach house and would love for you to use it during the summer.” Sharing what you own is wonderful. Using your assets for ministry purposes is great. But that’s not surrender. It’s not giving your firstfruits back to God. It’s not really giving anything to God, because you retain control of it! It’s still there for you if things go south financially and you need it to fall back on.

The whole point of giving something to God is to release it to him, losing control of it and allowing God’s Spirit, through his church, to direct it where it needs to go. God made his church a body, and he gives different ones of us different roles in that body. To some people he gives lots of resources, while to others he gives positions of leadership in the wise allocation of those resources. We all bring our gifts to the church and lay them on the altar. That’s how it works.

So while it may or may not be money, what is that one thing for you? That thing you’re afraid to loosen your grip on and release control over? What’s keeping you from taking Jesus’ hand in surrender?