Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
This story is often used as an illustration on the love of money. Indeed it is a strong reminder for us that as we love and follow Jesus, our hearts are to be set on Him and no longer on the things of the world. The issue in the story wasn’t that the young man was wealthy. It was not sin to be wealthy. The issue is that he treasured his riches and failed to treasure what he could have in Christ. Jesus told the man to sell his possessions and give to the poor. He then offered a promise and a follow up command: "you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me”. The young man left Jesus sad because he was very rich. He chose this world’s treasure and did not choose to lay up treasures in heaven. He was unwilling to make Jesus his treasure. The young man was very religious, but Jesus exposed his heart of greed.
I have often used this story to remind myself that God is much more important than our worldly wealth. However, after meditating on this passage of scripture repeatedly, it also taught me that there are other things, aside from money, that our hearts can treasure that are incompatible with our desire to follow Christ. I realized that there were things I was treasuring and holding to for which Christ’s words ring true: “Go, give it away, release the things you are treasuring, then come, follow me.”
It might be a bad habit, a bitter memory, or a persistent weakness. It could be anything we are harboring in our heart that we treasure more than we treasure Jesus. Whatever it is, give it to Christ, then come follow Him. He bids us to come. He bids us to treasure Him more than anything in this life. There is so much more we could have in Him than what this world offers us.
He is worth it. His love is better than life.