Fans of the hit movie “Frozen” are familiar with these words being belted out by Queen Elsa on a mountainside. Many Christians may also be familiar with these words as a constant reminder of what our response should be to the things of this world. Each of us are holding on to something today. Through each season of my life there have always been things competing for my affections and attention. I have had many treasures that I gripped tightly. I can remember High School days holding onto the attention of others, gripping unhealthy relationships, or treasuring athletics. I’ve had times of sin that I stubbornly resisted releasing. Today, my family may be what I treasure the most or it could be the approval of others. Whatever we may be gripping today we are doing so in order to squeeze some sort of peace, comfort, satisfaction, joy, or hope from it. And we do this to no avail. Sadly, we hold onto things and hope in things that were never designed to be our ultimate treasure. If the Lord has taught me anything time and time again, it is that the treasures of this world will not last. Jesus described these treasures being stolen, rusting, or getting destroyed. We’ve had abilities that have been taken away, relationships that have been broken, stuff that has disappeared and even loved ones we have lost. What the Lord invites us to is to let go of these so-called treasures for a better treasure in Him. When we hold on to earthly treasures we not only miss out on who God is but we also end up hurting ourselves. Jesus invites us to let go in order to hold on to something…actually…SOMEONE better!
In Jeremiah 2:12-13, God speaks up and He describes the condition of all of mankind. He depicts in this passage what we do when we hold onto or treasure other things besides Himself. ““Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares the Lord. For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns that can hold no water.” God calls out to all that He has made, “Be appalled!” which is literally “Be absolutely disgusted! Be upset at this!” He says, “You’re never going to believe this! Here I am all-satisfying, all-refreshing, all-good, all-loving and more. People are seeing that and not only turning away from Me but sucking the ground in attempts to get some sort of joy from that. And it doesn’t work!” Here God is depicted as this all-satisfying, life-giving fountain. Elsewhere in Scripture God is described as Holy which means that He is set-apart. Any beauty, joy, or good that we may see on this earth is just a fraction of who God is. He is set apart as better and above. And yet, our default is to go after the things of the earth. In sin we treasure other things. I think a better definition of sin, especially in light of what God says here in Jeremiah 2:12-13, is to treasure anything above Jesus. Sin is to grip our stuff rather than our Savior. This is why Jesus makes it abundantly clear that if we hold anything tighter than Him, it will destroy us. There is no life in that.
There are many times throughout the gospel where Jesus says things that should shock us a little bit and cause some discomfort. This is because Jesus draws such a sharp line between what it looks like to be or not be a disciple. In Luke 14 we find such statements. In verse 33, Jesus says, “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” Jesus shows us that we can’t treasure our stuff and Him at the same time. We treasure one or the other. The Rich Young Ruler was “extremely saddened” by this reality because his stuff was such a treasure to him. These things that compete for our affections may not always seem “bad” or “sinful” but they certainly can become that when they draw us away from Christ. Consider what Jesus says in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Here Jesus is showing us that we cannot hold “good” relationships over our relationship with Him. If we really want to love others the way that we should than we must love Jesus more! Finally in 1 John 3:9-10, the disciple shows us that we cannot hold onto our sin and say that we have a relationship with God. So in the end, if we want to really treasure Jesus then we must be willing to let go of our stuff, our relationships, and our sins.
I know there are many who know this truth and yet still find great difficulty in doing so. I believe the reason for that is failing to see that Jesus is not actually asking us to make a sacrifice. Jesus is asking us to let go for something better. God never asks us to run from something without giving us something (SOMEONE) to run to (2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 12:1-3). There are many who view the missionary David Livingstone as a man of great sacrifice who gave up home, family, comfort and more in the African jungles and yet at the end of his life he said, “I never made a sacrifice.” This is because he came to the amazing truth that everything that he found in Jesus was better than anything he could hold onto on this earth. Jesus brought Peter to this same truth after their interaction with the rich young ruler. To follow after Jesus is to go after a far greater treasure than any thing, person, or pleasure we could have on this earth. God has given Himself, through Jesus Christ, for us to find all-satisfaction, grace, and joy in so we need to quit grabbing onto the things of this life and grab onto Jesus. In the end we will find that the tighter grip that we have on Jesus, the looser our grip will be on the things of this earth.
Learning To Hold Onto Jesus, Pastor Rudy