That One Thing

January 7, 2021

Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mark 10:21 NIV 

As I was reading the words of Jesus this week, this thought occurred to me: “Christians” grade themselves on the curve. Disciples go for 100%. The account of Jesus with a wonderfully impressive young man illustrates the 100% issue.

Jesus was well-known in the area and becoming more so. People came from everywhere to follow Him. One such man came running up as Jesus headed into Jerusalem. People commonly call this man “the rich young ruler.” He was a ruler in the synagogue, which typically was an honor reserved for someone further along in life. That gives us an idea that he was a truly impressive and outstanding person. He was well to do, which gave him additional status. But despite his accomplishments, he had a deep insecurity. He wanted to be sure that he would receive eternal life. So he asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do in order to be certain to inherit life forever?”

Jesus knew immediately the young man’s problem, so He made statements He knew would reveal the young ruler’s predicament in a way he could clearly understand. He said, “Well, you know the commandments,” and then began to list them.

The ruler interrupted, “Teacher, honestly—I have kept all of them since I was young.” No wonder he was already a synagogue ruler. But clearly, he was not assured of his relationship.

Jesus said, “Ah, yes. You are right.” He looked at him with deep love and compassion. “But there’s one thing that you lack. You need to sell what you have and give it to the poor and then come follow Me. I guarantee that you will have treasures in heaven.” The man’s face dropped. Jesus knew what occupied his heart, what kept him from 100%, and He put his finger on it. He always did. The young man walked away sadly. He was better than most already, and grading on the curve would have to do. He couldn’t do 100%.

And there you have it. What is the “one thing” that stands between you and full surrender? You can’t be a true disciple with that “one thing” in the way. Jesus requires 100%. “Better than most” will never do.

  • Consider your own heart. Do you grade yourself on the curve? Is there something you are holding back? What would Jesus say you lack? Treasures belong to those who go for 100%.