In Mark chapter 10 a man came to Jesus and asked Him, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” This is a very important question, and part of the response that Jesus had is found in Mark 10:21-22 where the Bible says, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” There is nothing wrong with being rich in and of itself. Some of the faithful god-fearing people in the Bible were very rich. Abraham was rich and he was the father of faith. David was rich and of course Solomon was exceedingly wealthy. The question is not if you are wealthy, but the question has to do with your attitude towards wealth. You must get your priorities right, and God must be first on your list. If you have anything before Christ, then you cannot serve Him. That’s why you cannot serve both God and mammon.
For every human being, when faced with the decision of following Christ or not; there will always be something to give up. Because you are giving up yourself, you will be giving up one or more things that you loved in order to make the love of God your first priority. But it will not be the same thing for each person. Some people love money so much just like the man in this passage that God will ask them to give up their money and their love of money. For other people it may be the learning and the knowledge that this world offers that God asks them to give up in order that they might have the understanding of the Word of God instead.
If you have never given up something that you really love for the Lord’s sake because He wanted you to do so; then you may soon be faced with a decision to make just like this man who had to decide between his own great possessions or the way that the Lord had chosen for him. “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” This rich man made a terrible decision. He chose his possessions instead of the Lord.
Unfortunately, the decision that he made is similar to that which many, but not all, rich people make. Mark 10:23 says, “And Jesus looked round about, and said unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” Just being rich will be a stumbling-block to people getting into the kingdom of God. How much different the things of God are to the things of the world. Many people in the world are striving to become as rich as they can be, but in so doing, the closer that they get to riches, the closer that they get to losing heaven forever. Why is that? The disciples were puzzled about it. Mark 10:24 says, “And the disciples were astonished at his words. And Jesus answered again, and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God.”
The reason that it can be so difficult for rich people to end up in heaven is not because they are rich, but because they tend to trust in their riches. If a rich person has a legal problem, they use their money to get the best lawyer. If they have a medical problem, they use their money to get the best doctor, and so it goes. In a time of trial or stress, they turn to their money for help. Their mind becomes trained to do that. Because they have learned to trust in their riches, it becomes unlikely that a time will come when they will trust in Christ.
Jesus gave an example to show how difficult it is for a rich person to get to heaven. The Bible says in Mark 10:25-26, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?” It may seem strange to us that the disciples were so much amazed at this teaching by Jesus about rich people. Of course, we have the advantage of having heard this teaching all of our lives. It goes contrary to the general thought processes of human beings here on earth because most people think that if you are rich you have it made, and that you are in the best circumstance that you can be in. In the beatitudes Jesus said blessed are the poor, not blessed are the rich. The rich may just very well be under a curse. Their very riches may be a ball and chain that drags them down to hell. The Bible says in James 5:1, “Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.”
In spite of the fact that it is not likely that a rich person will stop trusting in riches and start trusting in Christ, it is still possible for it to happen. It says in Mark 10:27, “And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” Concerning the salvation of any soul, not just with that of a rich person, it must be said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God.” If it were up to human beings, no person would be saved. No one can save themselves. No one can build a religious organization that results in people being saved because of the organization. Unless the Spirit of God touches the heart of the sinner and reveals the Savior, there will be no salvation. Salvation is of God: not man. Human religions are always based upon the idea that somehow man can save himself through the ceremonies or the ordinances of the religion, but it is not so.
No human being is wise enough or smart enough to convince another of their need of a Savior. The Spirit of God must convince the soul of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. Until that happens, you will not be able to convince anyone that they need to be saved. Parents will not be able to convince their children. Preachers will not be able to convince their congregations. This is work that is impossible for man to do. But it’s not impossible for God. God is an expert at reaching the hearts of men and women. There is no one too rich, or too hard, or too cold that God cannot reach them. Don’t count anyone out. That which is impossible for man, is possible with God.
Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.” This is a wonderful statement because it can be used by all of us in each of the situations in which we find ourselves. Do you see a problem that needs to be fixed? “With God all things are possible.” Do you have a sickness or a disease from which you would like to be cured? “With God all things are possible.” Do you have a hope or a dream that has seemed to reach a dead-end? “With God all things are possible.” Do you know someone with a hard heart that needs to be saved and nothing seems able to reach them? Remember what Jesus said, “With God all things are possible.”
On the subject of leaving something or giving up something in order to follow Jesus and do His will, the Bible says in mark 10:28, “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.” At this point the subject changes from salvation to rewards in heaven. Some people do not understand the difference between getting saved and then one day receiving rewards. When a person gets saved, it is entirely by the grace of God. Giving up something and following Jesus is not what caused them to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Of course, in order to be saved, one must be willing at the time of salvation to go where Jesus wants one to go and to do what He wants. That is the problem that the rich young man had in this passage. He was not willing to give up what the Lord wanted him to give up and therefore he could not be saved.
Once a person is saved, over time their own selfish desires and their own self-will may work its way back into the control of that person’s heart and decision-making process. Some of these saved people become unwilling to give up something that the Lord wants them to give up. Other saved people keep on going the Lord’s way and stay committed to the principle of giving up what the Lord wants them to give up for His glory. If both of these people end up going to heaven, will there be any difference between them? Yes, there will be a difference between these two different kinds of saved people as far as what happens to them when they get to heaven. That’s the main significance of Jesus’ answer to Peter. There will be a difference in regards to rewards. This is how the law of consequences fits into a Christian’s life.
The Bible says in Mark 10:29-31, “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”
If you are going to follow Jesus, you will be called to give up something. What Jesus is saying in these verses is that if you willingly give up something because He asked you to give it up, then He is going to reward you for it. He is going to reward you both in this life and in the next. He is going to reward you because He knows what you did, He appreciates what you did, and He certainly has the power to reward you if He chooses to do so.
Notice the things that Jesus said some people will give up and will be rewarded for. Jesus mentioned that some people will be asked to give up “houses” and “lands.” Some people will be asked to give up material things for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of the gospel. Other people will be asked to give up personal relationships for the sake of the gospel. Jesus mentioned just about every personal relationship possible. Jesus spoke of giving up brothers, sisters, father, mother, wife, and children. If the Lord asks you to give up something for Him, He will not leave you barren. He will give you replacements that will far exceed what you could have gotten seeking your own way. If the Lord wants you to give up something, He will have something better to replace it with. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that the Lord wants you to give up something is because He knows that His replacement will be far better for you, and because He loves you, He wants you to have the best. Someone who gives up the wisdom of the world will be given the wisdom of God. Some young person who gives up an engagement that they chose out of worldly selfishness will find that God will eventually lead them to a much better choice.
Make sure that you go God’s way and not your own way. Make sure that you get God’s best both in this life and in the next. There will be consequences to your actions and to the choices that you make. Yes, getting to heaven is the most important thing of all; and the second most important thing is obtaining rewards in heaven and not losing your rewards. Some people say, “I don’t care about rewards. All I care about is getting to heaven.” Evidently that’s not all that the Lord wants you to care about or He would not have said the things that He did in this passage. That’s not all that the Apostle Paul cared about either. Paul wrote in First Corinthians 9:24-25, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” Paul also said in First Corinthians 3:8, “Now he that plants and he that waters are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” Finally, Paul said in Second Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
The principle for how and why God gives rewards is different from the principle that the world uses. In the world you must come in first place in order to be rewarded. Because of this, some people will do horrible things in order to come in first and get the reward. But the basis for giving out rewards in heaven is different. Jesus said in Mark 10:31, “But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” God will turn the tables. Some of the people that human beings think to be in first place are really in last place. God knows, and what God thinks is what really counts. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. When God looks at your heart, does He see that it is rightly related to Him? There is a lot at stake. There is a lot to lose: your own soul and all the rewards that God wants you to win. Don’t lose either one. Make sure that you give up whatever God wants you to give up so that you can follow Jesus. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.”
Copyright; 2002 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved