And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother. ’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking 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.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22)
Today I would like to be frank. What is keeping you separated from the Lord? In the text we find a “rich ruler” as the Bible subtitles the story, asking Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life? Jesus replies:
- Follow the commandments
- Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and come follow me.
To the first response, no problem! The ruler replies, “All these I have kept from my youth.” Now to the ladder half of Jesus’ response, well that was not so simple. The ruler not only became disheartened, the Bible says, he went away, suggesting that he decided not to follow Jesus.
This ruler mirrors the mind of many in the body of Christ (the Church) today. When it comes to the religiosity of the modern day Christian most of us have it down to a science. We come to church (most of the time), we give our tithes and offerings, we pray (I hope), and my personal favorite, we love each other “with the love of the Lord.” We are satisfied and have become self-righteous with our pious actions, thus feeling are we qualified to have a place in God’s kingdom.
Jesus knowing this, requests something from the man, that he knows means more to him than anything; his riches. First let me be hermeneutically correct, this story was literal. The man had a lot of money and was not willing to trade his earthly riches for heavenly riches, therefore he changed his mind about following Jesus. Jesus then turns to his disciples and says, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (v. 23). That does not mean that those who have wealth will not or cannot enter God’s kingdom, just that it will be difficult. For Jesus later says, “all things are possible with God” (v. 27).
Now that I have correctly presented the text, allow me to present to you some application. Some of us may not be financially rich, however, we all have something or someone that holds value to us; therefore making us like the ruler when we struggle to give those things up in order to follow Jesus. Jesus is really after our heart, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Lk 12:34). What do you value so much that you would choose it over the Kingdom of God? You may be rich with pride, you may be rich with love for another, or you may be rich with vanity. None of those things are as valuable as heavenly treasures. Whatever your riches may be, do not allow any of it to separate you from the Kingdom of God.