Devon Thorpe recently wrote an article for Forbes which is called: “The Real Reason The World Will Remember Bill Gates (Hint: It’s Not Windows 8). In this article, he focuses on Gates’ philanthropy now that he’s retired from Microsoft.
“Gates is famous for asking other billionaires to commit to giving away half their fortunes…Bill and Melinda have committed to giving 95% of their fortune to charity over time; that is an astounding measure of generosity. Of course, Gates can afford to give away 95% of their fortune and still make the Forbes 400 list each year, but everything in my experience suggests that it would be just as hard to give away 95% of $60 billion as it would be to give away 95% of $6 million. The loss of that personal fortune changes substantially who you are.”
Let me repeat what the author just said: “The loss of that personal fortune changes substantially who you are.” Would you feel substantially different if your net worth was reduced to only $4.75 billion? Would you feel like less of a person if you only had 4,750 million dollars in the bank?
Nobody here today is sitting on $60 billion. None of you are facing the prospect of giving 95% of your fortune away before you die (If you are, please make a point to talk to me after the service). So, such a conversation seems foolish because many people here don’t have a net worth over six figures—let alone seven. But, if you’re like Bill Gates, your net worth presently stands at 11 figures.
Yet, what if you were sitting on $100,000? Would you feel like less of a person if you were reduced to $5000? Or, if you only had $10,000 in your 401K, would you possess less self-worth if your net worth shrunk to a mere $500? Maybe, that’s closer to home for most of us.
As we turn to Luke 18:18-30, we find a wealthy man who faces the prospect of losing his entire fortune. This respectable leading man of his community comes to Jesus in search of eternal life. He stands before Jesus confident that he’s made of the stuff that Jesus is looking for in a would-be follower. After Jesus tests this rich man on his adherence to a number of the 10 commandments he answers: “All these I have kept since I was a boy.” Luke records Jesus’ unsettling response: “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus isn’t asking him to give away 95% of his fortune. No, he’s telling him to give it ALL away. It’s no surprise that when the rich man heard this that he walked away shaking his head in a state of great grief. Can you blame him for walking way? Like many successful men, he was doing his due diligence to weigh the risk of investing his life in Jesus. Once he heard the stakes, he quickly deemed them too high for his comfort level. For him, the risk of following Jesus outweighed any reward that would come from it.
Today, we’re each going to find out what Jesus demands from us if we’re serious about following Him. Like the rich man, we must each decide if the risk is worth the reward.
This article is an excerpt from this Sunday's sermon. All are welcome to join us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 am. Lighthouse Community Baptist Church is located at 22 Pequot Trail in Pawcatuck.