17 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?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 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.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 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.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
It’s so easy to dismiss this as a unique situation… “It certainly can’t apply to me. I’m by no means wealthy.” In comparison to most of my neighbors, perhaps not. But there are undeniably needy persons and families in my community, village, or city. Do my possessions so possess me that I’m content with passively acknowledging others in need? Has indulgence led me to indifference? What do I sacrifice for the sake of helping the needy and the lost and the broken? How does my budget (time/energy and money) for entertainment/recreation (sports, hobbies, cable, movies, shows, vacations) or dining out (nicer restaurants) compare with my charity (love/care for others)?
Yet this young man’s possessions were truly only the symptom. Jesus used his possessions as the trigger for revealing the “one thing” that was lacking. For this young man, self was ultimately his god. Even his greeting is exposed by Jesus (Who knew his heart) as posturing…a way to hopefully get this “famous rabbi” bolster his ego.
Is my love for God really just a facade…masking my need to feel good about myself? In actuality, that can make it easy to pursue good behavior…to compete and perform, even if privately (pride doesn’t always like to be too obvious). Conversely, authentic love for God will exhibit as worship of and obedience for Him and in love for my neighbor as myself…doing unto my neighbor as I would have them do unto me…indeed loving all of God’s creation as He does!