Bible Society of South Africa
Carina Francke

Praise him – Day 19

One thing is lacking

Bible text(s)

21Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”

Mt 20.17–19Lk 18.31–34

Mt 20.20–28

Mt 20.29–34Lk 18.35–43

Mark 10:21GNBOpen in Bible reader

Very few people on this earth do not secretly cherish a desire to someday be well known or famous. Maybe it has to do with a quest for recognition, or a wish to leave behind something to ensure that one is not forgotten. No matter what, most people are looking for that one thing that promises success and happiness in this life.

There was a man who had everything in his favour for being remembered for all eternity. He was a good, law-abiding citizen, he met the religious laws, he honoured his parents and he was rich, probably because he was a successful businessman. In spite of this testimonial about himself, he still felt something is lacking – the assurance of eternal life. When he asked Jesus about this, he received confirmation of what he already knew: “One thing you lack …” and then follows a disappointing and sobering answer: “… ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’ ” (Mark 10:21).

You see, his perception of what was necessary to ensure an important, eternal place for himself, was based on his own accomplishments and abilities. It was good works that deserve a reward. Then Jesus came and turned his world upside down – good deeds are more than rigidly adhering to ethical and moral rules. It goes hand in hand with relationships where you give yourself and your goods away out of love and not because you hope to get something back in return.

Attachment to earthly possessions, a hobby, a profession, status in society, hard work or similar perishable values, offer no hope or expectation of eternal life, for they do not reverberate the heart of God’s nature – love. Jesus attempts to bring home this truth by mentioning two relationships in his answer to the rich, good and law-abiding man. Firstly, sell your many possessions that are so important to you and give the money to the poor. This would be the greatest test of that man’s love for his fellow man, one in which he fails miserably. Secondly, give up your position, give yourself to me, Jesus, and become my follower. His misplaced love however prevents him from doing so. What a tragedy!

There is nothing we can do on earth that is greater, more important or has more status than the one commandment which our Father has entrusted to us, namely, to love him above all else, and to love other people as much as we love ourselves. Love that gives and serves is the answer to greatness.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.14.1
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