Now when Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely wealthy.
It would seem that Jesus saw some level of sincerity in the man. He wanted him to really “get it.” He told the man that he lacked one thing, and instructed him with four imperatives: sell, give, come, and follow. Even in this call to leave everything, Jesus gave an invitation. Jesus wasn’t suggesting that renunciation of worldly goods was in and of itself “good.” He was telling the man that He wanted him to exchange everything he had for something far more valuable.
Yet, the man did not follow. He didn’t “get it.” He was grieved at what Jesus told him, because he didn’t want to give everything up. He had so much in the world and was not ready to part with it. He counted the costs and was not ready to pay. Having money was not his sin. His sin was his love for money, comfort, and luxury over and above his love for God.
Our use of money—for good or for bad—does not determine our eternity. However, it does reflect our hearts and what we value (Matt. 6:21). When we are so tied to—so dependent upon—material goods and wealth, we aren’t freed up to hear the goodness of the gospel. Our hands are too full to receive what is being offered. The rich man loved what his money could buy more than his obedience to Christ. His treasure was in what he possessed, but Christ was calling him to seek and find an infinitely more valuable treasure.
- What does the story of the rich ruler tell us about the power of possessions? How does money reveal our hearts?
- How have you let material possessions or financial security take priority in your life (whether you lack or have excess)? How have you put money before kingdom work? What does this reflect about what you treasure most?
- Ask the Lord to search your heart and make known to you where your treasure truly lies. Repent of the ways you have loved the things of this world more than Christ. Ask Him to realign your heart for His kingdom, and to deepen your love for Him above any treasures on earth.