“When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
– Matthew 19:22
This is in the context of Jesus’s conversation with this rich, young man who comes up to him, says, “What do I need to do in order to have eternal life?”
A rich young ruler walks away from eternal treasure for the sake of temporary pleasure.
Jesus says, “You got to keep the commandments.”
He says, “I’ve done all these things. What do I still lack?”
Jesus says, “You need to go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you’ll have treasure in heaven. Then come follow Me.”
Matthew 19:22 says, “This man went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
This has to be one of the most tragic pictures in the Gospel of Matthew. To see this man walking away from eternal life, from eternal, everlasting treasure because he’s holding on to material pleasures in this world.
This Verse Reminds Us to Examine What We’re Holding Onto in Our Own Lives
It causes us to think, “Is there anything in my life that I am choosing to hold on to instead of obedience to Christ?” Yes, it could be possessions that we have placed in an improper position in our affections and our attention to keep us from following Christ, particularly in a materialistic culture.
We need to ask, “Are possessions keeping us from experiencing all that Christ has designed for us and called us to?” It could include so many other things. Just think of all the ways that we are tempted by sin to choose this or that over devotion to Christ, over submission to Christ. Really, this is the essence of all sin. It’s saying, “I’m choosing this over what Christ has said is best for my life.”
Matthew 19:22: Prayer for God to Help Us Let Go of Possessions
May this verse lead us to repentance even now in prayer. God, I pray for my own life, I pray for people who are listening to this. Would you open our eyes to anything we’re holding on to that’s keeping us from following you? Would you open our eyes to anything that we have put in an improper place, that we have given attention, affection to instead of you? And would you help us to see the things that we are prioritizing over you? Help us to see the ways that we are disobeying you, that we’re walking away from you, in order to indulge in this or that, to hold on to this or that, in this world.
God, please keep us from this posture of choosing the things of this world over you, of choosing any pleasures, pursuits, possessions in this world, instead of enjoying the treasure we have in Christ.
God, we pray you to help us to repent that we might not find ourselves in this tragic position that this rich, young man was in, missing out on all that you have for us in Christ because we want to hold on to things in this world. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.