v 21. Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This man was trying so hard to avoid wrongdoing – he kept the rules as he understood them and really wanted to be right with God. Jesus’ love for him was deep and real. Sadly, it wasn’t that the man owned things, but that things owned him and had first place in his affections.
As I visit other homes from time to time it never ceases to amaze me just how much ‘stuff’ some people have. There is the stuff you can’t throw away, after all it might be useful some day. (It rarely is, believe me) Then the stuff that has memories attached; I can’t throw that away, Aunt Clara gave me that just before she died. Of course, there is the stuff we ourselves have collected – it seemed a good idea at the time, but it cost too much to just get rid of. The storylines are endless, but they all end at the same point – you hang on to stuff. There are the boxes in the garage, cases under the bed, furniture in a neighbour’s garden shed, and up in the attic … can’t tell you about that really. That’s the stuff went up in the loft when we moved in 1987. You might even remind yourself that some of it belongs to the children who are starting their own campaign to store stuff. Things haven’t changed much since Jesus’ day. He saw right through that ‘Hanging on to stuff’ characteristic – as He might do with us today.
I guess most of this stuff doesn’t get in the way of following Jesus really, it just lurks in the background and keeps on reminding us that it is too valuable to throw away – or even give away to the Charity Shop. What it doesn’t say to us is that we are more than likely to be in the grip of ‘stuff’, as this man was in the story.
It is unlikely that Jesus is telling you to sell up everything, after all, the key instruction from Jesus is found in the words Then come, follow me. And that is something that we must sort out in our own circumstances. But He might be calling us all to live a lot more simply, and escape from the stuff generation. He alone knows just how much we are attached to the stuff life offers us, because Jesus was a Man who understood the human heart like no other.