Read Matthew 19:16-30
“…go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (v. 21b)
That is a big ask! Is that something that Jesus expects of all who aspire to follow him? Well…yes and no. Let’s take a closer look at how the story unfolded.
Of course, the story began with the man’s question of performance requirements for eternal life. That’s right, he specifically asked what he must “do” in order to earn it. How would you have answered that question? I hope that your response would have included truths like those reflected in Ephesians 2:8, 9:
- Salvation cannot be earned by doing
- Salvation is a product of God’s gracious giving
- Salvation is granted on the basis of believing
Now, if Christ’s response caught you by surprise, you are not alone. Directing the man to keep the commandments is a far cry from telling him of the necessity of faith. But Christ’s purpose was not to give the man assurance that he was good enough and worthy. No, it was to expose the man’s sin and need for the Savior.
Unfortunately, the man assessed himself as getting a perfect score, if the test for salvation were on the basis of murder, adultery, theft, and truthfulness. Personally, I rather believe that the man had an inflated view of himself.
Our omniscient Lord knew all about this man. He knew that this man’s wealth made coveting a point of vulnerability. In verse 21, then, rather than asking the man to self-assess, He told the man to take action by selling, giving, and following. Unfortunately, rather than repenting of his covetous tendencies and turning to follow Jesus, the man considered the price too high and left.
Does Christ expect us to sell all and give in order to follow? Not necessarily. But He certainly does want each of us to turn from our own areas of sinfulness. He refuses to take second place in our lives or even to tie for first. Oh…and by way of special encouragement…there is the promise of great reward for all who grant Him that position as they follow.