“But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:22)
We have all seen the devastation of hurricanes, tornados, and tidal waves on people’s lives and their property. News media covers events like that very well and graphically portrays the aftermath. We’ve seen interviews of families who have lost everything, and our hearts have gone out to them. For many, so much was tied up in their property, and they were barely able to hold on financially. Then, to see it all blown away by a storm devastates their lives as well. They grieve at the loss of property and the loss of items that may have held personal sentiment and significance in their history.
Those whose lives are thus wrecked will eventually come to a more positive outlook once the emotional trauma subsides, but among all the interviews of forlorn families, there is usually at least one interview of an “early arriver.” These folks may say something like, “Well, it was all important to us, but it’s just things. At least we’re alive. We’ll survive this, and we’ll rebuild our lives.” Others will get there, too, but it may take them a little longer.
So, what was different about the “rich young ruler” as we call him? He went away from Jesus grieving without actually losing anything. He grieved at even the prospect of losing his possessions. This reveals not only his state of mind but the spiritual state of his heart as well. His devotion to his possessions displaced where his heart should have been focused. The irony of his life is that his wealth actually cost him. In that sense, his possessions were more in possession of him than he was of them.
Possessions are no more evil than money is, and money is not itself evil. The Bible cautions us only about the love of money, not money itself. The same is true for possessions. Possessions are to be enjoyed, but if they dominate our lives, a line has been crossed, and we need to step back across it. Life does not consist of one’s possessions.
Lord, We acknowledge You as the real Owner of anything in our possession. May all of it serve to honor You. Amen.