“Do you see that guy over there?” the man at the church retreat said to me.
“The one with the plaid shirt?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s the one,” he returned. “That’s Ron, and by all rights, he should be dead.”
The fellow had my attention. Why should Ron be dead?
Over the next few minutes, I was told how Ron had a life-threatening heart problem. The blood vessels supplying his ticker were slowly deteriorating. His father and grandfather both died of heart failure when they were much younger than Ron was today. I excused myself and walked straight to Ron. After introducing myself, I told him of the news I had just heard, asking him to fill me in on the details. He willingly obliged.
Ron’s handshake was strong, but he exuded kindness. As he and I talked, he shared what it was like to know that at any minute, and with no warning, his heart could shut down completely. I learned of a wonder drug developed by researchers at Stanford University that was keeping Ron alive.
“What’s it like,” I finally asked, “to have a heart like this?”
“For one thing,” Ron answered, “I don’t buy green bananas.” We laughed. “For another thing,” he continued, “it helps me to keep short accounts. I never know if I’ll have a second chance with any of my relationships—especially my relationship with God.” I was almost entranced by this display of wit and wisdom. “Most of all,” Ron concluded with a twinkle in his eye, “I’m thankful that I know I have a weak heart. I have completely changed my lifestyle—my exercise regimen, my rest, and my diet. When you have a bad heart, nothing short of a radical transformation will do.”
The “certain ruler” who came to Jesus had a lot of money. However (and this may come as a surprise to you), his money was not his problem. The trouble with this man was his bad heart. Jesus had already made it clear: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Because of his dependence on his financial portfolio and his love for things, Jesus pronounced the man dead on arrival. “Your heart has followed your bank account,” the Savior said to the astonished man. “So because of this heart problem, you’re going have to do something radical. Take your net worth to zero, then you’ll have enough room in your heart for me.”
The tragic story goes on . . . “When [the man] heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth” (18:23).
There is nothing wrong with having things. There is nothing evil about money. However, if you fasten your heart to your cash and fall in love with your affluence, you’re going to have an unpleasant conversation the next time you see Jesus.
You and I—regardless of our personal balance sheets—are unwittingly drawn to financial gain. We’re lured by money’s promise of security and satisfaction. This is a tough predicament. We really want to trust God and have a pure heart, but often we don’t believe that God’s eternal riches of salvation bring contentment to our hearts. His riches. Not our riches.
Now that we know this, we can join Ron and do something about it. This news could save our lives.