One thing you lack...

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

As I type this article, we are 9 days into a 21 day fast. If you have taken this call to fasting and prayer seriously, you probably considered what it was that God might want you to fast from – food, entertainment, shopping, or something else entirely. One of the most daring ways to answer that prayer would be to put yourself in the shoes of the rich young ruler of Mark 10.

In this passage, a young man who appears to be sincerely devoted to God asks Jesus what he must do in order to inherit eternal life. Jesus mentions six of the ten commandments to him, encouraging him to obey them. The young man replies that he has followed them since he was a boy. In the next verse, we read that “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Mark 10:21). The man’s face falls, and he goes away sad, unwilling to part with his great wealth.

Now imagine that you had an audience with Jesus. If he were to say to you, “One thing you lack,” what would he follow that up with? Delete your social media? Give up watching or playing sports? Quit online shopping? Go to bed earlier and get up earlier so that you can spend the first part of your day with Him? What are you afraid that Jesus would put his finger on if he were to finish that sentence?

The interesting thing about the list of commandments that Jesus gave to the young man is that they were all commandments regarding our relationships with other people. He did not mention the four commandments that are primarily about our relationship with God. Among those commandments, of course, is to have no other gods before God, and to not worship any idols. When Jesus told the young man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, he exposed the young man’s idol, and the young man was unwilling to give it up. An idol is anything other than God that we look to for our comfort, self-worth, joy, or salvation. And chances are, whatever came to mind when you considered what Jesus might ask you to give up is an idol in your life.

Soon after the young man leaves Jesus, Peter tells Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!” Jesus replies, “Truly I tell you… no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30). The wonderful news is that there is absolutely nothing in this world that you can give up that God will not replace with something better: more of Himself. It may frighten you to consider giving up television, or dessert, or spending so much time and money on your appearance, but Jesus’ promise is you will not be left empty-handed. Instead, you will find that His presence and love is better than any idol that you have been clinging onto.

The bottom line is this: if Jesus says to you, “One thing you lack: give this up and come follow me,” do not be like the rich young ruler. Trust in the love of Jesus, and lay down your idols.

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