A Willingness to Grow
In Matthew 19:16 (ESV), when Jesus is asked by a wealthy young man, “what good thing shall I do so that I may obtain eternal life?” Jesus tells the man that only God knows what is good, if you seek eternal life then you should obey His commandments. The young man exclaims that he has been following God’s commandments and wants to know what he still needs to do. Jesus then tells the man in Matthew 19:21 (ESV), “If you want to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19 then records that the man went away feeling sad because he highly valued his abundance of possessions.
At first glance, this story seems to express that Heaven isn’t for the rich. Depending on how an individual approaches their Earthly wealth, this can be true. However, the story holds a deep insight on how we view our salvation and the how we need to change in order to obey God fully. Jesus is essentially telling the wealthy young man, you have an abundance of Earthly treasures, but the path to eternal life cannot be attained with such things. Thus, you should give these physical riches to your less fortunate neighbors and seek spiritual treasures from God above. After hearing this, the young man walks away saddened because he is unwilling to change. He prefers the physical lifestyle his possessions offer him over the opportunity to live with God eternally. Do we view the physical change that God requires of us as a loss? Or, do we see the physical sacrifices that God requires of us as spiritual gain?
Jesus says in Mark 8:35-36 (ESV), “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” The rich young man chose to save his current physical life over the life of his eternal soul. The apostle Paul, though, chose to do the opposite. He gave up his physical status, wealth, reputation, and life as he knew it in order to serve God. Paul compares his former life as prominent member of Jewish society to trash (Phil. 3:8-10). This is because the eternal life he can gain through Christ’s resurrection is beyond priceless. Paul saw the eternal life that is attainable through Christ as such a high value, that death after a life of serving Christ is considered a gain. Do we possess such a faith that we are willing to change for the glory of God? It is understandable that we will want to cling to all aspects of our physical existence, but we have so much more to gain in Christ. What can be gained in a few decades can’t compare to the gain of eternal life, but only if you’re willing to change and grow in your faith.