The Lord was asked this question by the young rich man who was beloved and respected, the Lord “looking at him, loved him’’ (Mark 10:21). He was also religious and a leader in the Jewish community. He was also polite approaching the Lord kneeling gently and meekly. Most importantly he was seeking the kingdom of heaven diligently, longing to keep all the commandments.
The issue here is about money which of course is a gift from God however, it could be a deadly trap that the devil can use, either by its abundance or its scarcity, to enslave people. Money is mentioned in the bible 2000 times! The most popular time is when the Lord said “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other, you cannot serve God and mammon’’ (Matthew 6:24).
Many people may struggle with the same problem in their spiritual life, they wish to only keep part of the commandments or part of the bible. The Lord says ’’No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old and no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined (Luke 5:36-38)
We note that the young rich man was actually worshiping the inner idol, ‘‘the love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10). Theoretically speaking he knew the commandments however he did not keep them or live by them. He ought to have had a heavenly treasure not an earthly one, thinking that being rich is an indicator on how much God is pleased with Him. He was not following the good Sheperd and simply was worried about his future. Through this worry he broke the first commandment “you shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).
We look then at the answer given to this question by the Lord “one thing you lack; Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me. But he was sad at this word and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.’’ (Mark 10:21-22).
1- GO is the first thing the Lord said: Go in the way of repentance and change your way of life. Repentance = Change (Mitania) as God said to the Angel of the church of Ephesus “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works’’ (Rev 2:5).
2- Sell whatever you have: Give away everything that binds you to the world; money, possessions, thoughts, so that you can live freely. Do not make you heart connected to the world. Do not make mammon your master but rather make it your servant. Fasting helps us to cut all the chains that binds us to the world as St Paul says ‘’And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition’’ (1Tim 6:8-9).
3- Give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven: We should live throughout our life always giving as the more we give the happier we will be “It is more bless to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And you will have treasure in heaven. We see here the amazing relationship between the poor and Heaven as St John Chrysostom says “The poor are the guardians of the kingdom of heaven”. Thus this is the reason why the church tells us during lent “Blessed are the merciful who give to the poor”. So then try to be a giving person not only during fasting. If you are giving for the sake of the Lord, even if it is little, be sure it is great to God as the Lord does not look at quantities but to the heart. “assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given; for they all put in out of their abundance, but, she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:43,44).
4- Follow Me: Follow the commandments as the Bible is not just many small commandments but rather a way of life which we need to live. One day “as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him “Follow me”. So he arose and followed Him. So we see that it is evident if this tax collector did not obey and follow the Lord when He called him, he would have stayed as a tax collector for the remainder of his life and he would not have become the great apostle St Matthew.
5-Take up the cross and follow Me: This is the life of striving that we should live as the Lord carried the cross for you and for everyone. We then ought to also carry the cross of spiritual striving, particularly against every sin and weakness, trying to progress every day as God’ grace allows as St Paul says “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (1 Coin 9:25). You should therefore then follow these five steps and God will help you “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Mat 19:26).