September 2007 - Vol. 11

A Large Pearl Collection?

The power of the Holy Spirit is not only for us.

by Bruce Yocum

Making sacrifices to follow the Lord
A number of years ago I was visiting a young Nicaraguan man — a husband and the father of four children. The economic difficulties in Nicaragua had been increasing rapidly. The morning of my visit, the government had once again devalued the córdoba against the dollar. Worse, it doubled the price of gasoline.

This meant that the young man would be earning less money in a week than it cost him to pay for gasoline to drive to his job.

This young husband and father is a Christian. I asked him the obvious question, “How can you feed your family and raise your children in an economic situation like this?”

“I can’t,” he replied.

“What will you do?” I asked him. He smiled and said, “God will take care of me. And so will my brothers and sisters in the Lord.”

I often think, “I thank God I am not called to live a life as difficult as that of my Nicaraguan friend.” Aren’t you and I fortunate? We do not have to make those sacrifices to follow the Lord.

Or do we?

Jesus and the rich young man
“And behold, one came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter eternal life, keep the commandments.’ He said to him, ‘Which?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not kill, You shall net commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘All these I have observed; what do I still lack? Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possession” (Matthew 19:16-22).

Using our resources for the Lord
That rich young man was not forced to give away what he had. Difficult economic circumstances did not strip him of his possessions. Jesus simply asked him to give them away for the sake of the kingdom of God. Jesus asked him to take on a more difficult life for the sake of the kingdom of God. I know many places where you and I could voluntarily give away our possessions. I know many Christians around the world who are in serious need of food, clothing, and shelter.

I know many places where the gospel could be preached more effectively if there were more financial resources. Many people could provide us with opportunities to sell all that we have and give it for the Lord’s sake. Or perhaps the issue for us is our time — do we use it primarily for ourselves or for the Lord? 

Many years ago a young minister, David Wilkerson, felt God calling him to take the time he spent watching television and simply give it to God in prayer. God began to move in his life. Later Wilkerson wrote a book about what God had done for him — The Cross and the Switchblade. Years after that, some young Catholics read that book, and in part because of that, were baptized in the Holy Spirit. These Catholics were instrumental in the beginnings of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, a movement which has now brought new spiritual life to tens of millions.

Why did God do this? Why did he act in David Wilkerson’s life? Why did he send the charismatic renewal? For what reason have you and I experienced an outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit?

Is it so that we can experience a more comfortable Christian life?

Rewritten parables
George Martin, author of Reading Scripture as the Word of God: Practical Approaches and Attitudes, once told me one of his “rewritten parables”: “And the man went and found the pearl of great price. So he bought that pearl and took it home and put it in his pearl collection.”

George’s rewritten parable points out our great temptation to take the gifts of God and add them to our own personal collection of comfortable advantages and treasures.

Why has God poured out his Spirit? Not just to make our Christian life more pleasant, but to give us the power to live as disciples of Christ. Through his Holy Spirit God gave that young man in Nicaragua the power to live for God — joyfully and radically. Has not God sent the Holy Spirit to us for the same reason?

[Bruce Yocum is President of Christ the King Association and a member of the International Executive Council of The Sword of the Spirit. This article was originally published in New Covenant Magazine, February 1989.]

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