The Bible Edge
Everyone needs an Edge, Believers can have a Bible Edge
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
Notice today’s verse carefully. It communicates something very strange. The man this verse is speaking about was very rich. He was also very sorrowful. Normally we who have an embarrassment of riches (poor) think that everyone with riches is happy all the time. They have more than the heart could desire and if they do not have it, they can go out and buy it. This strange thought, very rich but very sorrowful, seems contradictory, but how many times does it seem to come to pass that this is true. This man was not sorrowful because he was rich, he was sorrowful because his riches hindered him from doing that which Jesus invited him to do.
This rich man came to Jesus with the question of questions. Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus told him to be sinless, to which the man stated that he has kept all the law from his childhood and throughout his adult life. To which Jesus replied: Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. (Luke 18:22) Jesus loved this man (Mark 10:21) and called him inviting him to …follow me. But the prerequisite to following the Lord was to sell all that he had, distribute the proceeds to the poor. If he did this the Lord Himself gave him a promise…thou shalt have treasure in heaven.
Now, this man would not receive eternal life by becoming poor and giving his riches to the poor, for Heaven is reserved for individuals that know they are sinners in need of a Savior. This man was not a sinner, or rather he did not see himself as one, therefore he needed no Savior. Now on this theme we could spend months of devotions but let us return to the lesson. The lesson from this great man (in that he was very rich) is this. Sorrow entered this man’s life because he would not let go of something he had to get something of greater value.
This reminds me of a story I heard one time of a great hunter. This man was such a good hunter that zoos would hire him to capture certain animals, unharmed, for their zoos. One zoo wanted a certain species of monkeys. The big game hunter tried and tried to capture them to no avail. Finally, one of the indigenous guides told him that he would deliver the monkeys to the hunter the next day. True to his word he did. How? He took a gourd, cut the top of the narrow part off, put the monkey’s favorite food in the gourd and left these traps staked out overnight. The next morning every gourd had a monkey attached to it. They had smelled the food, slipped their open hand into the gourd, grabbed the food creating a ball of their fist filled with food, and would not let go of the food in order to go free. They would rather lose their freedom than let go of what they wanted and go free.
The same is true with the rich man in our verse today. He wanted eternal life but would not let go of that which he had in his hand. Now, you think I am speaking about his money. Not so, he would not let go of his pride in thinking he was not a sinner needing a Savior. This man’s experience gives us an edge for temporal and eternal life. When Jesus leads a person to let go and follow Him. Well…Let go and follow Him!
William T. Howe, Ph.D.