I read Randy Alcorn’s book Money, Eternity, and Possessions but didn’t see mention of Luke 14:33, which I am trying to understand: “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” Do you have any views on this?
You ask a great question. In Money, Possessions, and Eternity Randy writes:
A Lifestyle of Hospitality
Hospitality is commanded in Scripture (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:9). Obedience to this command assumes that Christians have houses, beds, chairs, food, drink, medicine, and other provisions to share with travelers and the needy. John commends Gaius for his hospitality to “the brothers, even though they are strangers to you,” then adds, “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (3 John 5-8). By making available his material resources, one type of disciple can “work together for the truth” with the other.
Just because they have different lifestyles, one kind of disciple is no more spiritual than the other. Mary of Bethany, arguably the most devoted of all Christ’s disciples, lived in a large house with considerable possessions, which she and her family regularly made available to the twelve. Judas Iscariot, on the other hand, “left all” to follow Christ.
Paul and his traveling ministry team were deeply grateful for the hospitality that facilitated their ministry (Acts 28:7; Romans 16:23). Without the support of those disciples called by Jesus to have and share possessions, those called to leave possessions behind couldn’t carry out their mission.
In light of this distinction between the two types of disciples, what are we to do with Luke 14:33? “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Does “give up” mean give away? It cannot, if we consider Christ’s injunction that even the twelve should have sandals, staffs, and cloaks, and that other disciples should go back to their homes and provide food and housing. Clearly, some of Christ’s disciples were relatively well-off people who retained their ownership of property and financially supported him (Luke 8:1-3).
Giving up everything must mean giving over everything to kingdom purposes, surrendering everything to further the one central cause, loosening our grip on everything. For some of us, this may mean ridding ourselves of most of our possessions. But for all of us it should mean dedicating everything we retain to further the kingdom. (For true disciples, however, it cannot mean hoarding or using kingdom assets self-indulgently.)
Here are two other articles from Desiring God that I think will be helpful as well:
We wish you God’s best.
Chelsea Dudley served as Randy's personal assistant at Eternal Perspective Ministries for several years.