God did not give the best of heaven for His people to focus on the things of earth, whether worldly goods or worldly praise (Mt. 6:19-21). Our Savior calls us to follow—no matter what and with everything we have and are—because He loves us, just as He loved this young man (Mk. 10:21). But for the Lord to fill your life, you must be willing to let Him first fill your heart. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
The biggest mistake this young man made was his motivation for coming to Jesus in the first place (Luke 18:20). But he is not alone. Many seek out Jesus for comfort or even attention. Many seek society and friendship but not fellowship and His Lordship. To them Jesus has also spoken:
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt. 7:21–23).
These motivations and their behaviors are a perversion of discipleship. A disciple does not come to Jesus seeking validation, but seeking salvation. There is a big difference. The first wants Jesus to approve his lifestyle as it currently is; the second is prepared to give up his lifestyle because of what it formerly was. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (Jn. 8:31–32). The principle Jesus emphasized was simple: you can hold nothing back from God and still please God. You must give Him your all.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the heart to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This particular account ends sadly because “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” But this rich young ruler differs little from many of us. He had so much to offer—so much talent, so much intelligence, so much interest. But that was not enough, because he was unwilling to offer his all (Ecc. 12:13). He wanted an exception, but Jesus offered none.
Beloved, Jesus does not provide salvation by just one single act; He requires your whole life. He does not offer exceptions to what God’s Word says; He expects us to love and obey it all. Jesus Christ held nothing back from us when He left heaven to come to earth to die at Golgotha, and we can hold nothing back from Him if we hope to please Him. Christianity is an all-or-nothing proposition. And that is the choice in eternity too. Which will it be for you?