Who Is in Possession?

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Mark 10:17-22 NIV)

He came to the correct person, Jesus, and he asked about the correct subject, eternal life. But when Jesus responds, “Why do you call me good? … No one is good—except God alone” (v. 18), it seems strange. Most of us probably think Jesus is good, so what is Jesus attempting to teach that young man? The lesson Jesus is teaching is that in order to get eternal life, doing good or being good is not enough.

Jesus goes on to remind the young man of the commandments that the young man had already accomplished. At first the young man is elated. He thinks he is in! “Teacher, … all these I have kept since I was a boy” (v. 20). You can just imagine him pumping his fist and exclaiming “I made it!”

Peering into him and loving him, Jesus says, “One thing you lack. … Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (v. 21).

The young man finds himself at a crossroads and has to answer the question we all face. Do we believe our future will be good because God is with us? Or do we believe our future is secure because our portfolio is diversified enough and our assets are allocated sufficiently? Simply put, is our faith placed in God or in our stuff?

In the end, the young man allowed his possessions to own him, and he missed life. God asked to be loved more than the young man’s stuff, and the young man was not able to do it.

~Dale McConnell


What is at the center of your life—God or your possessions?


Take a personal inventory of all of your possessions. In your journal, reflect on the question, “Is there anything I would be unable to give up if God asked me to?”

From A Generous Life: 28 Days of Devotion. Copyright © 2019 Abingdon Press. All rights reserved.

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