A rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.” The young man said that he did keep these commandments from his youth. Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” In verse 22, it says:
"Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."Jesus’ words made this young man’s sin clear. By telling him to let go of his possessions he made clear the state of his heart: That he valued his wealth more than God. This goes against the 1st commandment: “You shall not have any other gods before me.” The rich young man broke this commandment.
We are just like this rich young man. How often do we hold back from fully trusting in Christ because we still have some treasures in this world? How much time with Christ and His work do we miss out of because we are “enjoying” our treasures? And how difficult it is to give up these treasures! Spend a week with no worldly entertainment and see how difficult it is. All of a sudden a new episode of your favourite show comes on, or a movie you “just have to watch” is showing in the cinema. Facebook posts from your friends are suddenly very interesting, and there are invitations to parties from your friends.
There is a difference between controlling your worldly treasure and being controlled by it. We can enjoy the fruits of our labor, but we must not labor for these fruits. Our lives should not be controlled by the things of the world, even by the good things of the world. Tell yourself what Jesus told the rich young ruler: “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor.” Now be honest and gauge your reaction. Is this something you can really do? Or is this something too difficult for you to do?
I personally could not do it myself. If I were the rich young man, I would most likely have turned away just as he did. This is because trusting in Jesus is not something we can do by our own effort. Jesus himself said that it was impossible, he said, “With man it is impossible,” then he continued that statement with the key to unlocking our faith: “but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
We are the rich young man. We are as guilty as he is: loving this world more than God. But it is because of our missing the mark, falling short of perfection, and living in sin that God had to send His only son, Jesus Christ. He took on our sin upon himself and took on the punishment for our sin as well. So he died on the cross so that we can be set free. And now because of this freedom we are growing more and more mature in Christ; and someday we may be able to say “Amen!” when we read this verse:
Hebrews 10:34: You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.By the grace of God, we will be able to live with eternity in mind, and to follow Christ to the fullest.