God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and he would have done so if the angel had not stopped him. (Genesis 22:1-13)
Jesus told the rich young man to sell all his possessions and give away all the money. He refused. (Matthew 19:16-22)
God did not want Isaac’s death and I am sure He did not want the young man to become a pauper. If he would have started the process of divestment God would have somehow stopped him. Both the sacrifice of life and the sale of goods were designed to determine the degree of faith held by each man. God was seeking a willingness to obey rather than poverty or death.
Abraham passed his test and during his trip back to his family he had the satisfaction of knowing he had pleased God. The young man failed his test and he walked away because his quest for eternal life was going to cost him more than he was willing to pay.
I was saved as a young child more than seventy years ago. My decision at that time cost me very little. The subsequent years of sanctification and discipleship have posed much more difficult questions. All too often I have joined the rich young man and walked away from what Jesus wanted of me. My daily prayer is that I will learn the lessons the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me and be instantly obedient.
God’s love is practical. It finds specific, helpful things we as his children can do for others. I have discovered that sometimes those things need to be done for people I don’t even know. Sometimes they are designed to be done for people I don’t like. Other times they are intended for people who do not like me. But every time I ask God about them He tells me to “Quit asking and start doing.”