Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
It wasn’t wrong for this man to have riches. In fact, Jesus asked him to use them to aid the poor instead of hoarding them all for himself. He had an opportunity to not only bless others in a big way, but to experience for himself the blessing of giving and sharing and loving others more than self. His riches were simply the thing in his life keeping him from Jesus. They were what he valued most, so in order for him to follow the Lord, he would have to get rid of them.
The young ruler had to forsake all to follow Jesus, and that is what He would ask each of us, as well. Do we, too, go away sorrowful, valuing more our possessions or our dreams, even our family and friends? Or have we willingly laid down everything to follow Jesus wherever He would lead us? We can’t be so clingy to places or things or people, but we need to be open to God’s leading, ready to leave them behind in order to follow Him and keep on growing.
This man also had another important lesson to learn, for eternal life is not another object to obtain or a treasure to store up. The important part of it all was not giving up riches, but following Jesus. Jesus is the one who paid for our salvation, the ultimate example of giving up riches, for He left behind the splendor of heaven to come to Earth and die on a cross for us. He gave all that He had for others without a single thought for Himself. And He enriches us all by His life of selflessness and compassion.
We have a choice to make. Will we put a price on our relationship with the Lord? Will we follow that rich man back down that sad, pitiful trail to his possessions that certainly could never satisfy? Or will we choose the more difficult path of surrendering all to Jesus? We can’t buy our way in, because He already paid the cost. But we can spend our lives in service to Him, following wherever He may lead, remaining obedient, faithful children who please our Father.