One Thing You Lack
He was apparently raised in a very religious home, and was still a highly religious man. Not only did he know the commandments, but had kept them all since his youth – up to and including to this very day. Now we see him asking Jesus to help him with his desire to inherit eternal life (Mk. 10:17-20). The next fifteen words in this text are some of the most vital, critical, and essential to our understanding of the Lord, the lost, and the truth about what real, sincere, and Christ-like godly love looks like in the entire New Testament. “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack…’”(vs. 21a). And there you have it!
Amongst the many vitally essential lessons to be learned from that one, fifteen-word phrase alone, is that despite what the walking-in-darkness-world (Ephesians 4:17-27) all around us says, thinks, or does, disagreeing with or correcting someone who needs correcting in order to get them either onto, or back onto the straight and narrow pathway to heaven, does NOT mean that the one teaching and/or working to correct them doesn’t love them (2 Tim. 2:24-26) – “Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack…’”. In fact, it means just exactly the opposite – see: Proverbs 3:11-12, 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Corinthians 12:15; and Hebrews 12:5-17.
When this seemingly devout and religiously-knowledgeable young man came to ask Jesus for His help with his desire to inherit eternal life, Jesus loved both His own heavenly Father, as well as this young man, way too much to tell him anything other than the absolute truth as to what it was going to take in order to legitimately accomplish that desire. Jesus’ all-consuming love for the young man would not allow Him to stretch, water down,edit or avoid the absolute truth which he so desperately needed to hear – whether he knew it or not,and/or whether he really wanted to hear it or not – in order to make it to heaven. Jesus’ pure and unadulterated love for this young man (whom He would later die to provide forgiveness of sins and eternal life to) demanded that He tell him exactly what the correction was which he needed to make, in order to eventually make it to heaven (“Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack…’”).
The young man’s response to Jesus’ honestly, truthfully, and lovingly answering his inquiry? Exactly what Jesus knew it would be long before He ever gave him the answer to his question…he wasn’t interested; and that in his youthful selfishness and shortsightedness, he would walk away (never to come to his senses and return as far as we know):“But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Vs. 22).
Jesus’ very loving, very honest, and very much-needed response, would require far more from this young man than he was willing to give. It would require the complete surrendering up of his own personal, prideful, and self-serving agenda, pursuits, and possessions. It would demand that he truly put others ahead of himself; and to do so in a most humble, selfless, and Christlike way (Philippians 2:1-8); something which he was just not willing to do – even if it meant losing his long-anticipated and worked for eternal reward.And so, he walked away. And Jesus …just let him go.
Now, make no mistake, Jesus didn’t stop loving the young man – even after His departure. You never see such in Scripture anywhere. He would still die for him. He still loved him. And it surely must have broken Jesus’ heart to see him depart. But He still just let him go. Why? Because that’s exactly what real, godly, Biblical and Christ-like love, by its very nature has to do,with those who prefer their own, self-centered and self-serving pursuits – whether those pursuits pertain to money, power, pleasure, popularity, or a simple and sinful lack of willingness to humble ones’ self and fully submit to the truth of God’s word.Godly love means… letting those who are like that, go. That’s what Jesus did with His disciples who wanted to leave in John 6 – He just let them go… because that’s what godly love does. That’s what the Father of the so-called prodigal son did when His son decided to leave in Luke 15 – He just let him go… because that’s what godly love always does. That’s what godly love always does because that’s what godly love has to do!
The reason why godly love just lets those go who wish to do so is not at all hard to understand. In fact, it makes perfect sense. The reason why, is because we have all lovingly been given the gift of total free will by God; a free will to come, and go, and do as we please – answering for it all in the end of course (John 12:48; Rom. 2:4-10). God, in His all-knowing wisdom, also knows you can’t force a being with complete free will to choose to love you, or to always choose to do the right and godly thing (no matter how much you might love, labor, teach, invest in,or try to get them to). For to do so, would be to rob them of that very same gift of free will which they were given in the first place.
Therefore, if they choose to buy the lie and leave the love, wisdom, training, and correction of the Lord and/or those who love and are sincerely seeking to help correct and get them to heaven(and are hence serving in their best interest), then there is nothing else that true and godly love can do, other than to simply let them go… And then hope and pray that those who have left will somehow, some day, some way,be brought to their knees and hence back to their senses out there in the world like the prodigal son was;all the while turning still-loving and ever-hopeful eyes toward the horizon, for their much anticipated and prayed for, much more humbled and ready-to-do-the-right-thing, return…