Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22, New King James Version).A number of people have taken these words of Jesus quite literally and sold off their earthly goods in order to follow Jesus and try thereby to inherit eternal life.
Mostly, they end up angry and disappointed at God and their religious leaders who encourage them to sell off and give to the church. I even heard recently that a man, not having much to sell off, put his only wrist watch in the offering basket when it was passed. Such teachings lead to disillusionment soon afterwards and we have to rightly divide the word of truth in order to avoid that scenario.
We see Jesus in that passage interacting with a very faithful follower of God’s law, one who recognized Jesus as 'Good teacher' in verse 17. He had been following all the laws diligently; you could say that he was the kind of member that any Pastor would be glad to number among his membership. However, he needed to be sure to not miss heaven, our ultimate goal as followers of Jesus. In verse 19, Jesus gave this man the prescription, saying,, “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.”
This man was good; he had kept all those commandments since the time he could tell right from wrong – since he was a boy. Religious and faithful, he sensed that he was missing something and not knowing what it was, he came to the One who is the Way, The Truth and The Life to ask for the truth. He was so sincere and so faithful that verse 21 records that as Jesus observed him, Jesus truly loved him. Here was this man, faithful and seeking the truth, like most of us who have been believers for some time. We have served and obeyed God’s commandments to the best of our knowledge and ability but deep in our hearts, we sense something is missing.
We start to suspect that in spite of all our running from one crusade to the other, in spite of our faithful life-long service in the things of God, we might end up missing heaven. And he knew that he did not want that to happen and I pray none of us shall miss heaven, because hell is terrible and eternal forever. Okay, Jesus told him, “If you are truly serious about going to heaven, to live forever with God and I, then show me where your trust lies. Go and get rid of all your earthly goods and come follow me” is a paraphrase of Verse 21. This man was serious about wanting to live forever with God so why did his face fall in verse 22?
Why the disappointment when he was told to detach from the world in order to attach to heaven? The bible says it was because he had great wealth. The weight of his wealth was more than his desire to live with God; he had trusted his wealth for so long that it was hard for him to see that friendship with the world and its system is actually enmity with God. If you trust your wealth, you will not be able to detach from them and attach to God because it is impossible to attach to both. This poor man missed heaven because instead of trusting God, he valued his wealth more than he valued God. He had never been taught from 1 John 2:1, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
I pray that none of us will miss heaven; that we shall start trusting God and not the things of this world.