And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
We may deny it, especially if we don’t really have great possessions to begin with, but our material possessions and riches can exert a strong pull on us. There is something in our hearts that falls in love with those things and makes letting them go or being without them become unthinkable. And the desire for those things can blind us to something so much better standing right in front of us.
When Jesus mentioned specific commandments required for eternal life, He didn’t mention the one that perhaps this man was breaking—the very first one about having no other gods, the one about God having first place and preeminence. The truth is, we can often, in our flesh, let other things become more important to us than God. Those things may not be wrong in and of themselves, but the value that we place on them in our hearts raises them to a position even above the Lord.
For this man to be so grieved at the thought of giving up his riches, they must have held such a high place in his life. For them to be more important to him than an opportunity to follow Jesus was truly sad, indeed. But what kinds of things take first place in our hearts? What kinds of things might we be loving more than God, even if we don’t want to think of it that way? What in our lives might we need to set aside in order to be a better follower of Christ?