Is He Your Treasure?
Read Mark 10:17-22 (ESV)
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Is Jesus requiring us all to give away all of our money in order to follow Him? If not, what was Jesus getting at?
Do we have to keep all of the rules to get to heaven? Do we have to give away all of our possessions? Is there a certain level of poverty that we have to live in order to have eternal life? Today’s passage is often misunderstood and brings up a lot of questions. Sometimes, people read this account and believe that giving to charity or living in poverty is necessary in order to receive salvation and go to heaven. But that is NOT what Jesus is teaching here.
When we go back to the Bible and study the whole of Scripture, we see that Jesus Himself taught that salvation was a result of faith in Him alone. In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgement, but has passed from death to life.” Jesus put no other requirements on salvation. It is by faith in Him alone. Salvation is a gift of His grace. So what was Jesus saying to the rich young man?
First, we see that the man asked what he had to “do” to have eternal life. He was used to an environment of legalism and works. But Jesus doesn’t say to him, “you don’t have to do anything, just believe in me” as we might expect. Instead, He started off by challenging the man’s ideas about good behavior. The man had called Him, “Good Teacher” and Jesus wanted to know why. He pointed out that only God is good. On one hand, this confirms Jesus’ deity. He is good because He is God! On the other hand, this statement points to human depravity. Romans 3:23 confirms that all of us have sinned and fall short of God’s standard of holiness.
Then, Jesus asked the man to consider the 10 commandments. Jesus had just said that no one is good except God. So, you’d think the man would confess his sins, repent, and ask Jesus for forgiveness. Instead, he said that he had kept all of the commandments since childhood. Really?
Now, we may be tempted to think the man was either insincere or extraordinarily arrogant to think that he had perfectly kept the law. But don’t we all tend to do this from time to time? We like to think that we are mostly good. We’ve never worshipped an idol. We’ve never killed anyone. We haven't committed adultery. At least...not physically.
Once again, Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter. Just as Jesus said that if we are angry, we are guilty of murder in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-22) and if we look at someone with lust, we have committed adultery in our hearts (Matthew 5:27-28) so we are guilty of idolatry when we love our possessions more than we love God.
The problem wasn’t the man’s wealth. The problem was the man’s heart. It wasn’t the man’s external actions, it was his internal attitude. He loved his money. He wanted to keep and enjoy his money here and now rather than to give it all up to get treasure in heaven. He wanted eternal life, but he didn’t want to obey this teaching of Jesus. He went away sad, but unwilling to give up what he truly treasured in his heart.
Friends, Jesus wants our whole hearts. He wants to be our treasure. Is there anything taking the place of Jesus as the treasure of your heart?
Lord, I confess that sometimes, I treasure the things of this life, more than I treasure You. Please forgive me. I want to love You more. Increase my faith and love for You. Amen.