By Mark D. Roberts
Mark 10:17-27 is one of those passages in the Gospels that makes most of us terribly uncomfortable. Like the man who asked Jesus how he might inherit eternal life, we also have “many possessions” (10:22). And if we’re honest with ourselves, we would not want to hear from Jesus what the unnamed man heard: “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (10:21).
Biblical interpreters are quick to point out that Jesus has not established a universal principle for all disciples here. In fact, among his close followers were people who supported Jesus and his disciples financially (Luke 8:1-3). They hadn’t given away all their money to the poor. Moreover, it would be wrong to conclude from this passage that eternal life comes through our actions and sacrifices. Indeed, the free gift of eternal life comes from God and his love poured out in Christ.
But, having found a way to blunt the sharp jab of this passage, we sometimes miss its clear call to sacrificial generosity. We who have so much—and that is the vast majority of us—ought to share it with those in need. As my father once said to me, “We need to give until it hurts, and then keep on giving until it feels good.” Joy in giving is part of the heavenly treasure offered.
If you’re one who struggles to give, this passage from Mark ends with good news: “Everything is possible with God” (10:27). Not only can God save our souls from sin and death, but he can also save us from selfishness and greed. If we allow God to touch our hearts, our fundamental values, and even our bank accounts, we will become people who freely share what we have been given.
Think and Pray
Are you a generous and cheerful giver? Why or why not? In what ways do you struggle to share your possessions with others? What helps you to give away what you have?
Father, I am so aware of how your grace saves me, not only from sin and death, but also from my selfishness and greed. Thank you, Lord, for the ways you work on my heart, helping me to learn to be generous. Keep on doing it, I pray. Teach me to share with others the bountiful gifts you have showered upon me. While we can get so wrapped up in materialism, help your people to be generous, sacrificial, and, yes, even cheerful givers. May we give to the poor and to your work in this world. Help us to open our hearts and our wallets. This is possible for you, Lord. Please do it! In the name of Jesus, your greatest gift, I pray. Amen.
Published by The High Calling. Theology of Work Project Online Materials by The High Calling are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Mark D. Roberts is the Executive Director of Fuller's Max De Pree Center for Leadership. He is the principal writer of the Life for Leaders daily devotional. Emailed each morning to over 7,000 subscribers, Life for Leaders serves leaders in all sectors of life by helping them go deeper in relationship with God as they grow in a biblical understanding of their work.