Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
The young man began with the right question: How can I have eternal life? He longed to live beyond himself and sought the right person for counsel. It’s hard to find fault with his credentials. Murder, adultery, theft, and lying were appropriately absent in his resumé. He had treated his parents with respect and honor. He had reached out to his neighbors. If I’m Jesus, I’m saying, “Let’s ditch the fishermen, tax collector, and zealot. Follow me, young man, let’s go change the world!” But Jesus, always able to peer deep into the messy heart, saw a clogged spiritual artery, a little problem with the god of money. When Jesus pinpointed the issue, the rich young man dropped his head and walked away from the Giver of eternal life.
I have always wondered what happened to that young man. If he continued on the journey away from Jesus, by all human accounts he lived a rich full life. I am sure he and his beautiful wife lived in the big house on prime property barely visible from the road. He gave his kids everything they wanted, including the best education available. He traveled to exotic places, stayed in extravagant hotels, and ate exquisite foods. He continued to make money. It seemed everything he touched turned to gold. Business advisors drooled to have him as a client. He retired in luxury to a beautiful island swinging in a hammock, fanned by servants, and fed grapes the size of tangerines.
And yet, people wondered why there was such sadness in his eyes. He had everything…and nothing…at the same time. And then one day the sad old man died. They said he experienced a rich full life…as he experienced an empty hellish eternity. He gained the world and lost his soul.
- Tell God how tempting it is to trust in stuff and how hard it is to give it up.
- Tell God to help you remove your hands from the things that fade away and grab hold of the things that last forever.
Father, help us not make the same mistake as the rich young ruler. May we be willing to give up anything…everything…for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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