There was a time in my life when my focus was on achieving success as the world defines achievement. I believed that God had given me certain abilities, and I was going to use them to attain personal goals. It was my life, and I had a plan to get where I wanted to go. I thought I would get there because the plan was smart and well-thought-out.
As I arrived at my goals, I realized that the achievement did not feel as successful as I thought it would. There was an emptiness that I could not explain. The problem was related to a question I had failed to consider: "Whose life is it?"
Much of my life was about accumulating material goods and positioning myself to take extended vacations. Anyone else would have looked at my life and thought I was happy and fulfilled. But the Lord saw disorder. He knew that He was not first in my heart, and even worse, He had been marginalized.
I had been taught throughout my childhood that true happiness is only found in the Lord. Money and material possessions are fine but are also insufficient for fulfillment. I had also been taught that the Lord must always be the first priority, and everything else falls into place as a result. While I knew these lessons to be true, I was living as if they were a lie.
In the story of the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19, the ruler approaches Jesus as asks, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He had kept all of the commandments, but Jesus said to him, "One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." He left feeling distraught about Jesus' statement because he had great wealth. No where else in the Bible do we see advisement to sell everything. However, Jesus could see what was in this man's heart and that he needed to give up his love of the material. He knew it would interfere in this man's ability to follow Him. His possessions had become his idol, and nothing can come before Him.
If we are too focused on building a comfortable earthly life, we cannot be pursuing God with the necessary urgency. No where in scripture does it say that Christians should pursue comfort in this world. Instead, we are called to make sacrifices and give generously.