In Matthew 19.16-22 we can read of a man coming to Jesus and asking Him what he should do to attain eternal life. After some discourse about how the man asks the question Jesus finally answers the question. The answer provided addresses what the man desired more than eternal life, in this case, stuff; “he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Jesus then turns His attention to his disciples and provides them a lesson on the difficulties of the rich maintaining their spiritual mindedness.
Notice, Jesus not only tells the young man what he needs to change about himself, but we are also provided the template to apply this teaching to ourselves. If we were to approach Jesus asking about making changes in our own lives to attain eternal life the response is the same: give up what you love more that following Jesus (v21). If the response of the man is any indication, compliance with this command of the Christ will not be comfortable. Jesus knew exactly what this guy loved more than being right with God- and He knows what you love most too.
The next logical step is to ask ourselves what we love most. Be honest- do not cheat yourself out of a chance to grow. Like the man in who approached Jesus, consider your possessions: what does your giving say about what you love most? Perhaps time: how much of your time is given to edifying your brethren (much less than worship in many cases)? What stands between you and forsaking the world to follow Jesus?
You may think I’m making this sound extreme, but that comes directly from the text (read it yourself). The teaching Jesus lays out is extreme and is to be applied to us. So extreme is this teaching that in verse 25 the apostles ask, “who then can be saved?”, later responding, “we have left everything and followed you”. Jesus commends them, and then states, “everyone who has left [what they love behind] will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19.29, paraphrase mine)
I challenge you to make a list of things you have forsaken to follow Jesus. What have you stopped doing? What times did you lose earthly things to devote your time to the kingdom? What possessions have you sold or given away to help the brethren? What can we say we love most? What do we still lack?