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The Man Who Couldn’t Let Go

Read: Mark 10:17-31

Sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me. (v. 21)

One of the problems with possessions is that we can become enslaved to them. Think of how differently you behave after putting new carpet in a room. Shoes, pets, food, and drink are suddenly banished. There’s nothing wrong with buying new carpet, but do you see how quickly life gets rearranged by the care of just one possession? The more we have to care for, the less space, it seems, is left for God. Caring for his possessions prevented the rich young ruler from following Jesus.

The martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Those words capture the essence of what the rich young ruler failed to understand.

Jesus is not suggesting the rich young ruler can purchase his salvation. Our Lord is showing him that the encumbrance of his wealth stops him from receiving the free gift of God. If he were willing to give up that which he could not keep—his temporal wealth—he could gain that which he could not lose—his salvation. But it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for us to let go of our possessions to create space for God. The ability to do this does not come from inside us. Thanks be to God that through him all things are possible. —Jeff Munroe

As you pray, ask God to help you let go.

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About the Author

Jeff Munroe is the editor of the Reformed Journal and, in addition to being the author of the best-selling book Reading Buechner: Exploring the Work of a Master Memoirist, Novelist, Theologian, and Preacher, is also a poet, blogger, and essayist. His work has appeared in Christianity Today, The Christian Century, US Catholic, and The Reformed Journal.

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series Living Generously