“When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:22).

What has become of the eagerness that brought the rich young man running to Jesus, of the willingness to do any hard task to which he was called? It was real eagerness, but shallow. It deceived him. But Christ’s words cut down the inner man and laid bare for his own inspection the hard core of selfish worldliness that lay beneath. The immediateness of the man’s collapse is noticeable. The young man seems to speak no word but stands for a moment as if stunned and then silently turns away. What a moment! His fate hung on it. Once more we see the awful mystery enacted before our eyes of a soul gathering up its power to put away life. Who will say that the decision of a moment which is the outcome of all past may not fix the whole future? Christ tore away the veil of surface goodness that hid the man from himself and forced him to a conscious decision. One sign of grace he does give, in that he went away “sad.” He cannot see the fair prospect of eternal life, which he had in some fashion desired, fade away without a pain in his heart. If he goes back to the world, he goes back feeling more acutely than ever that it cannot satisfy him. He loves it too well to give up but not enough to feel that it is enough. Surely, in coming days, that sadness turned to a godly sorrow to work a change of the foolish choice, and we may hope that he found no rest till he cast away all else to make Christ his own.

Adapted from “In His Presence”