We can have seemingly everything life has to offer and yet still feel like something is missing. Perhaps you’re having more success at work than you even thought was possible. Maybe you’re making more money than you’ve ever made before. Maybe you have great relationships in your life. It could be that your health is as good as it’s been in years. And yet, it just seems like something is still missing.
There are times when the issue is our lack of contentment…meaning whatever we get, we always want more. But there are other times when something seems like it’s missing…because it actually is missing. If you’re in a season where it feels like you’re missing something, maybe it’s because you are. Perhaps God put it there because He wants to get your attention. What if today, God is offering you what you lack? Would you want that? Are you sure?
We’re going to look at an encounter Jesus has with a man who just feels like, “I’ve got so much…but there’s something I’m still missing.”
Mark 10:17-32 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. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – along with persecutions – and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
This guy has it all and I’m not just talking about his wealth. His story also shows up in Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. Matthew tells us that he was a young man. The only thing better than being old and wealthy is to be young and wealthy. Luke tells us that this man was a ruler. Perhaps he was an official of a synagogue. So he’s young, wealthy, and he has some power. But he’s also incredibly moral. Jesus starts listing off a few of the ten commandments and this guy’s like, “Yes, I’ve kept all of them since I was a boy.” And Jesus doesn’t tell him that he’s wrong.
Have you ever had that moment in a performance review where your boss is telling you that you’re so amazing, but then he or she says, “However, there’s this massive issue that will get you fired if you don’t change it.”?
Jesus tells him he’s still missing something. “There’s one thing you lack.” This man knew it. He had all of these things going for him, but something was missing. For someone who seemed to have everything, what could possibly be missing from his life?
Regardless of everything you have, does it still feel like something is missing?
If we just take this text at face value, we will conclude that the one thing missing from our lives is that we need to be more generous. Generosity is an important part of our life and we’ll talk about it today – but selling all of his possessions and giving to the poor isn’t actually the one thing this man was missing out on. It’s a symptom of a deeper issue. So what was really missing? Jesus introduces this idea of treasure in heaven.
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
While this man wanted eternal life with God, he didn’t value that as much as he valued his wealth.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
This is a spiritual principle and a practical one. You literally cannot have two masters. In the end, one of them is going to win out. You will ultimately choose one thing over another. You cannot have Jesus as Lord if you already have wealth as your master.
You will never be able to orient your entire life around Jesus as long as you are orienting your entire life around something else.
There is no other place in Scripture where Jesus tells anyone to sell everything they have and to give all of their money away. So don’t assume that’s what He’s asking us all to do. But do assume this:
You cannot follow Jesus if you are being led by something other than Jesus.
This exchange between Jesus and this wealthy man is full of emotion. Look at verse 21 – Jesus looked at him and loved him. Jesus wasn’t upset at him. He wasn’t intentionally seeking to make this man’s life difficult. He was doing what was in this man’s best interest. We know that Jesus loves everyone, but this is the only time in all of Mark’s gospel where he makes note that Jesus looks at someone and loves them.
Jesus wanted this man to have the greatest treasure. He wanted him to know a joy he had never known before. He wanted him to experience true freedom. He wanted him to know it’s actually more blessed to give than receive. He did this out of love for this man. And whatever hard thing He’s calling you to in your life, He’s doing that out of love too.
But this man didn’t receive the command of Jesus as a loving command. “At this the man’s face fell.” Notice this next line – “He went away sad, because he had great wealth.” What we would normally expect to hear is this – “He went away very happy because he had great wealth.” Why is this man sad?
The word “sad” here literally means that he was grieving. Though he wanted Jesus, he did not think Jesus was worth giving up his wealth for.
What can you never imagine giving up, even if it means you miss out on Jesus?
That’s probably the one thing you lack.
It wasn’t just that he made money his treasure. He also trusted his money more than he trusted Jesus. He had more faith in what his wealth could do for him than what Jesus could do for him. And Jesus says something that should grab our attention: “It’s hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus is using what was likely a humorous saying about anything that seemed impossible. There’s a better chance of a camel, a large animal, going through the small hole of a needle than for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom.
The disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responds with, “All things are possible for God.” Who or what is your treasure? What is your trust actually in? Who or what is lord over your life? “I don’t believe the Bible.” Okay. How do you decide what parts you believe? Who is Lord of your life?
Proverbs 18:10-11 The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.
You are safe in God’s good hands and so is everything you place in His hands.
“We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety.” A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
“What we hold on to always diminishes. What we give away always multiplies.” Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus
Having everything without Jesus will never be enough.
There’s more Jesus has for us, but we’ll have to give something up to get it.
A few things specifically about wealth and money: Jesus never tells this man that there’s something wrong with him having a lot of money. But Jesus knows that wealth has the power to blind us. I love how John Mark Comer said this:
“Jesus sees money as useful, but dangerous.” John Mark Comer
Generosity is the antidote to greed.
It just is. I have a friend who told me that running is the only way he can keep his weight down. He’s tried different diets and different exercise routines…but he knows the regular habit of running is the only way he can keep his weight down. Generosity is the only way to keep greed down. Do you have a regular habit of generosity? No, for most of us it will not mean selling everything we have. But it will involve giving some portion of what we have. I always recommend starting with 10% and then work up from there. But start somewhere and make it consistent.
Here’s a question that you really need to be honest with yourself as you answer it: Do you ultimately want treasure on earth or treasure in heaven?
We are always giving something up to gain something else.
Jesus invited this man to give up having wealth as his god and to actually have God as his God. But rather than give up his wealth, he chose to forfeit eternal life with Jesus. Will you give up whatever it takes to have Jesus and to follow Him?
This passage concludes with Peter declaring this to Jesus – “We have left everything to follow you!” Peter is saying, “We gave it all up to have you.” Again, Jesus doesn’t argue with Peter. He simply tells him this: “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age and eternal life in the age to come. Yes there will be persecutions but it will all be worth it in the end.”
Do you feel like something’s missing?
Is there anything you treasure more than Jesus?
Is anything off-limits in your life?
Would you rather hold onto that and miss out on Jesus or hold onto Jesus and miss out on that?
When Jesus asks us to give up something in order to have him...He’s only asking us to do for Him what He’s already done for us.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
This is the offer for you today. Will you accept it or will you walk away sad?
Love Jesus more than anything. Treasure Jesus more. Trust Jesus more – than anything. So you don’t mind giving up anything and everything, but you know – whatever I lose, I must have Jesus.