“Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me’” (Matthew 19:21).

When Jesus confronted this young man with the key to eternal life, the man was brought face-to-face with the true state of his spiritual heart. He was a good man, worthy of the Lord’s love, but he was not hungry for the things of God. From what we know of him, he does not seem a lover of money or covetous of his possessions. It seems he valued his possessions and looked upon them as good, seeing them as something deserved and perhaps meritorious. But our Lord saw that young man as a slave, for a man is in bondage to whatever he cannot part with. The Lord could have taken his possessions from him, but there would have been little good in that. The Lord wished to accomplish His purposes by the exercise of the young man’s will. That would have been a victory for both! If only he could do as the Lord suggested, the youth would enter into freedom and life, delivered from the bondage by the lovely will of the Lord in him, one with his own. By the putting forth of divine energy in him, he would escape the corruption that is in the world through lust—that is the desire or pleasure of having. But the young man would not. The price was too high, and he went away sorrowfully. The Lord had given him the very next lesson in the divine education for which he was ready. It was possible for him to respond, to give birth by obedience and so be free. It was time the demand should be made upon him, and his refusal allowed him to see what manner of spirit he was of. Next, the searching of the heart must follow. A time comes to every man and woman when he or she must also answer this question as well.

Adapted from “In His Presence”