The Gospel of Matthew: a commentary & meditation 
 "Sell what you possess and you will have treasure in heaven"

Scripture: Matthew 19:16-22

16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said, "You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to him, "All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
Meditation: What gives hope and satisfaction to our desire for happiness and security?  A young man who had the best the world could offer -- wealth and security -- came to Jesus because he lacked one thing.  He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which money could not buy him.  The answer he got, however, was not what he was looking for.  He protested that he kept all the commandments; but Jesus spoke to the trouble in his heart.  One thing kept him from giving himself whole-heartedly to God.  While he lacked nothing in material goods, he was nonetheless possessive of what he had.  He placed his hope and security in what he possessed.  So when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, he became dismayed.  Why did he go away from Jesus with sadness rather than with joy?  His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. The Lord himself is the greatest treasure we can have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy. See Jesus' parable about the treasure hidden in a field (Matthew 13:44). Selling all that we have could mean many different things--our friends, our job, our "style" of life, what we do with our free time. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. Those who are generous towards God and others find that they cannot outgive God in generosity. God blesses us with spiritual goods that far outweigh the fleeting joys of material goods. He alone can satisfy the deepest longing and desires of our heart. Are you willing to part with anything that might keep you from seeking true joy with Jesus?

"Lord, you alone can satisfy the deepest longing in my heart.  No other treasure can compare with you. Keep me free from being possessive or discontented and give me joy in having you alone as my Treasure and my Portion."


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(c) 2002 Don Schwager