In the discussion with the Rich Young Man in Mark 10, Jesus made an interesting observation about the young man’s commitment and desire to keep the Law. The observation was this, “You lack one thing…”
What was the one thing the rich young man lacked? If he had done all that the Law required of him “from (his) youth” then where was the void? What had he missed? Was it sacrifice, commitment, generosity, sincerity or something different? It may have been all of those things and more. Specifically, it may have been security. The security this young man found in his wealth and the status that wealth garnered. Consequently, what he lacked was the ability or desire to walk away from that security. Nevertheless Jesus was willing to give him that opportunity when he said, “GO, SELL all that you have and GIVE it to the poor…and COME follow me.” At that point it appears the conversation was over. Jesus had scratched the young man’s veneer of vulnerability to the false security of wealth and challenged him to move beyond that superficial idea. He could not.
All the verbs that Jesus uses to move the man to a true inheritance of eternal life had been a nail in the coffin of his tender soul. He had worked hard for his wealth and had his fist tightly clinched in a desperate move to hold on to it along with his dedication to the Law. But that was not enough. It never is.
Most of us know this story and how it ends. The young man could not do what Jesus asked him to do. It grieved both his heart and Jesus’. The young man walks away knowing – or at least admitting at that time – that he could not “sell all that he (had) and give it to the poor.” It was just too much.
With the economic conditions of our time, many of us are faced with the issue of security. We may scale back our giving to the local church, to missional work, to faith-based ministries and the like. Because of our acute awareness that today or tomorrow could be our last day of viable income, we tend to give short-handed. That is we give, we just give out of fear even though we may never be asked to give in the same proportion as the rich young ruler and that is, give “all”.
I often look and wonder where ‘ve tethered the rope of my security. Is it a bank account, a portfolio, certain possessions, a home? If called upon, as an expression of trust in God’s security, could I or would I go, sell and give in order to follow?
In my mind’s eye, I like to think that perhaps somewhere down the road the rich young man decided that what he had was not worth keeping in comparison to what he needed to have. That the “price” of eternal life was worth the “cost” of giving away all that he had. As we know, “all” was the price Jesus paid at the cross. But perhaps the man didn’t and simply died a rich old man – rich but still lacking.