(The following is the January 22 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 19 and pay close attention to verses 16-30.)
One day a wealthy young man came to Jesus and asked, “What good must I do to have eternal life?” (v. 16). Jesus mentioned several of the Ten Commandments and the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Surprisingly, the man claimed, “I have kept all these. What do I still lack?” (v. 20).
Was the man telling the truth? The New Testament teaches, “There is no one who does what is good, not even one” (Rom. 3:12) and “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). James wrote, “whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all” (James 2:10). Everyone has stumbled at many points of God’s moral law – not just one. Nobody earns salvation through good works. It is a gift from God and comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Eph: 2:8-9).
Jesus took the conversation in another direction by getting at the heart of what the man valued most – his wealth. Jesus told him, “Go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (v. 21). The man left grieving because of his many possessions. There is no indication he obeyed. Following this exchange, Jesus told the disciples how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of Heaven. He assured them, though, that “with God all things are possible” (v. 26).
The rich young man assumed he could do something to guarantee eternal life. Jesus showed him that he must treasure Christ more than anything for that reward. We must be willing to surrender whatever competes for Christ’s rightful place as supreme in our hearts, obediently following him for the rest of our days. Anything less is unworthy of the gift of eternal life.
Does anything or anyone in your life compete for the love and prominence only Christ deserves? What would Jesus tell you to give up to follow him more faithfully? Are you willing?