“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 10:21Mark 10:21
English: World English Bible - WEB
21 Jesus looking at him loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack. Go, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me, taking up the cross.”
Is there something wrong with Jesus’ definition of love – or is there a problem with our understanding of love? This man – a wealthy man – came to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. This man had obeyed the commandments, but that’s not enough for Jesus here. Jesus knew that the man could continue to follow the commandments.
A challenge for this wealthy man would be to give up his wealth for the poor – something that would stretch him and his faith to levels worthy of eternal life. The wealthy man, sincere in seeking eternal life, missed an opportunity to know Christ’s love because he had a greater love for worldly possessions.
Today we call ourselves compassionate and loving when we believe we’re protecting others from experiencing the challenges of life – thinking that by denying them the experience we’ll somehow make their lives easier. But what will happen when we’re no longer there to protect them?
Real love, as Jesus teaches, is to put our faith completely in Him; to follow Him and not the things of the world – the wealth, the social status, being liked by others – because these will not prepare us for eternal life. So are we cruel when we let go as our young child rides his first bicycle? Are we greedy when we require the able-bodied poor to do meaningful work for food and shelter? Are we intolerant when we stand for what’s right?
This is love: That we challenge others to do better – to succeed or fail on their own merit so that they can get back on the bike, understand the rewards of work, and stand on the principles that will make the world better. Each struggle in life prepares us for greater challenges which eventually lead to men and women who rise to the occasion, showing real love for the next generation.