Last time we saw a rich young man go from eager to dejected after learning that the only way he can receive eternal life is by selling everything he has and following Jesus. How does this apply to us?
- YOU can’t DO anything to get to heaven. The man starts his question with “what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?” (v. 16). We think in simple terms, if I do good things I’ll go to heaven, if I do bad things (really bad things) I won’t. But it’s even simpler than that. If you accept God’s grace you go to heaven. We can never do enough good deeds,
- We know we aren’t good enough. The young man points out that he’s kept all the commandments, but he keeps pressing Jesus “What else do I need to do? ” (v. 20). He knows in his heart that eternal life is not yet his. Likewise we know. We know that even though we follow many of the commandments to the letter we don’t always follow them in spirit. We know that we aren’t as compassionate with our fellow man as we need to be. We know that we haven’t given everything over the God. This young man was just brave enough to verbalize this knowledge.
- How much of your identity is wrapped up in who you are and what you have? Jesus didn’t just tell the young man to give to the poor, he said “sell everything you have” (v. 21). Jesus didn’t just tell the young man get rid of his possessions he said “come and follow me” (v. 21). Translation: lose the life you have to immerse yourself in me. That’s a tall order. It’s easy to be critical of the young man not wanting to give up his material possessions…but Jesus was pushing for so much more. How far are you willing to go?
- Keep your view of money in check. The bible has a lot to say about money. While it doesn’t actually say that money is evil, it is very clear that money can have a lot of power on people. I heard someone once say money is an amplifier of your personality. If you’re a good person, you’ll do good things; if you’re a bad person you’ll do bad things. In this verse Jesus doesn’t say that rich people can’t get into heaven, he warns that it is very difficult because of the lengths people will go through to acquire and retain wealth. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
- We are in a state of constant disobedience. Jesus says “sell everything and come follow me” (v.21). We respond, “I would, but I have to go to work, I have a child to take care of, my elderly mother needs me, I’m an important person on XYZ committee, I’m a leader in my community, etc, etc” What we are really doing is disobeying the first commandment “”You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Chew on that.
The same way Jesus tested Peter to step out on the water he is testing us. Are we willing to surrender everything we have – everything we are – and put it all in his hands?