When a certain ruler asked Christ, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18.18) he ultimately went away sad and depressed because he was a wealthy man. He had properly done all the things that the Law had required of him. He was what we might consider a “good man” by any standard. By his own confession he had done all the right things since his youth. But when pushed by the ruler, Christ said, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Luke 18.22)
We all want to think we are good people, and for the most part, we are. For the most part, we don’t commit any “serious” sins, and so we believe that we are ready to enter into heaven. We must remember eternal life isn’t about following the rules, but loving God and loving others more than we love ourselves. If we think that we will enter into heaven saying as the ruler did, “All these things I have kept since my youth,” then we will discover just how far we still have to travel.
God doesn’t ask us merely to follow a bunch of rules. He asked us to love Him and others more than we love ourselves. When it came to this ruler in today’s Gospel, he loved his money more than God, and left sad and depressed. Living in the richest nation in the world as we do, can create an extra burden for our journey to heaven. Our society glorifies wealth at the exclusion of most basic morals.
But it doesn’t have to be just about money. Anything can be the focus of our love besides God. What if God had said, “Leave your family and follow Me,” or “Leave your job and follow Me.” In fact He says both these things in the Gospel It will be different for each of us. Ask yourself this question, “Is there anything I am not willing to give up for Christ?”
Don’t allow your answer to send you away sad and depressed. The Apostles realized how difficult this challenge was and asked, “Who then can be saved? But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18.26-27) It is possible with His help.