"And as he [Jesus] was starting out on a trip, a man came running to him and knelt down and asked, 'Good Master, what must I do that I may inherit eternal life?'" Mark 10:17 TLB & KJV
In the Gospels we have a story from the ministry of Jesus that is most interesting. It is an encounter with a man the Scripture describes as "the rich young ruler." This unnamed ruler surely knew who Jesus was, and asked of Him the most important question that could ever be asked — "How do I inherit eternal life?" You probably know the story well. I, too, felt I knew it as I have read it many times. Jesus answered by quoting the Old Testament commandments:
"Don't kill, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, don't cheat, respect your father and mother." Mark 10:19 TLB
The young man replied to Jesus:
"Master, all these things have I observed from my youth." Mark 10:20 KJV
The Living Bible seems to indicate that Jesus paused for a time and gazed intently into the man's eyes. He also did not dispute his stated innocence, so it must have been true. We gather these thoughts by Jesus' next word —
"Jesus felt genuine love for this man as he looked at him." Mark 10:21 TLB
Now comes a truth we may have overlooked in this very important incident in Jesus' ministry. Follow closely a word which I had never considered, but was quickened to me by the Holy Spirit.
First, let me say, and I believe you will agree, that we have heard many excellent messages on the blessings and rewards we receive when we GIVE OF OUR SUBSTANCE AND WEALTH for the expansion of the Kingdom of God here on earth. I could fill a hundred pages with stories from both the Old and New Testaments about God's blessings and rewards to those who GAVE for the cause of Christ. From the widow who saved the prophet's life from starvation by giving him her last cake of bread, to Moses who gave up all the wealth of Egypt, to Solomon who gave all his wealth to build the great Temple of God, to Hannah who gave God the son she cried for, to the first Christians who sold all their possessions and gave to see the Gospel go out from Jerusalem to the world — yes, on and on, but Jesus Himself said it best:
"Give and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down...and running over." Luke 6:38 KJV
I'm sure by now you have gotten the message that God sees to it that we who give shall surely receive! I'll prove it even better from the Scriptures in a moment, but here it is —
I have never heard a Bible based message on what happens to those who refuse to give anything for the cause of Christ! Selah.
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And now for the rest of the story.
Jesus shocked this young man by saying that with all his innocence he still lacked one thing:
"Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor—and you shall have treasure in heaven." Mark 10:21 TLB
Then, Jesus offered him the greatest blessing or treasure of all —
"And come follow me." Mark 10:21b TLB
Who knows what awesome reward potentially lay ahead for this rich young ruler had he obeyed Jesus' command. He might have replaced Judas and been one of the twelve! WOW! If so, he would have sat on a special throne in heaven with the twelve patriarchs of the Old Testament and the twelve apostles of the New Testament! We will never know what glory lay ahead, and it would have been great as I will prove in a moment. No, we shall never know because —
"He went sadly away, for he was very rich." Mark 10:22 TLB
What a tragedy! Though this young man was very rich, he walked away from the best investment he could have ever made! Yes, doubly sad because he gave up an investment that would have produced a 100-fold return, as we shall see, and possibly the "ETERNAL LIFE" which was his first question to Jesus. We hope that he finally made his peace with God, but the Scripture does not tell us how this eternal soul ended up.
We know that he gave up his earthly reward from the next few words Jesus gave to His disciples. Simon Peter reminded Jesus:
"We have given up everything to follow you..." Mark 10:28 TLB
Jesus confirmed the earthly rewards that come to all who give up earthly treasure to follow Him —
"Let me assure you that no one has ever given up anything — home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or property — for love of me and to tell others the Good News, who won't be given back, a hundred times over...all these will be his here on earth, and in the world to come...eternal life." Mark 10:29-30 TLB
So, I think we all surely agree that God rewards all who give anything of value for the sake of the Kingdom. But, what about those like this young man who refuse to give up anything for the Gospel?
I think we can safely say to the non-givers: You will not have a reward of treasure in heaven!
Let's be careful here — notice Jesus did not say the young ruler's gift would buy him "eternal life," or his "salvation." Jesus simply said if the young man would give he would be "laying up treasure in heaven."
Now, I know, I am writing mostly to my precious giving partners! How Jan and I love you; but, more than our love, I believe, this story proves how much Jesus loves you for giving to spread His name throughout the world! Yes, most of us have given and many very generously; but, just as a wise person places some of their earthly treasure in a bank or savings account, should we not be adding to our heavenly account on a regular basis? Praise God, I know you will so that this Gospel of the Kingdom may continue to bring precious souls to Christ!
Please know that Jan and I could not go on without YOU! 18,000 stations, cables, dishes, and the Internet, plus 70 great satellite footprints are bringing in an awesome harvest! Praise the Lord!
If we don't see you here on earth, we will see you "just inside the Eastern Gate over there"! And together we will greet a great multitude who will rise up and call us blessed!