Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
That’s not the answer the rich young ruler wanted to hear when he came seeking Jesus, because it would truly cost him something. This wasn’t something he could build up in his mind, like thinking he had kept all the commandments. It wasn’t a commodity he could gain or accumulate like his riches. It was a deliberate action that he would have to take, a separation of himself from the worldly in exchange for the spiritual, an exchange of earthly treasure for heavenly. It was about being willing to walk away from his old life in order to have a new one in Christ, and for him, that was too high a price to pay.
We are also faced with that dilemma anytime Jesus comes to us and asks us to follow Him. We are not always willing to take the action required, to make the necessary exchange, to completely surrender to Christ and give Him the top place and top priority in our lives. Often we are content to just tell ourselves we’ve kept the commandments and think we’ve obeyed fully when Jesus is asking for something more from us. We expect, like the rich young ruler, to gain without having to give.
Jesus can identify whatever it is that has been exalted to idol status in our lives. And when he calls us out on it, we have a decision to make to either give that up and let go of what is hindering us from surrendering fully to Him or else to go away sorrowfully clinging to our earthly treasure. And when we are willing to walk back down that road away from Jesus and toward those others things instead, that is what is truly very sad.
We can’t get so attached to stuff here, whether it’s possessions or people or places or positions. It should be that everything else is disposable, but Jesus is irreplaceable. We can really let go of everything else but Him. But sometimes it seems like we’re not really willing to let go of anything at all, when He really isn’t asking that much of us. Because all we’re doing when we cling to the worldly is missing out on His best for us here and in the world to come.