Jesus challenges the man to redefine his relationship with his material possessions, but he does it in love.
Read Mark 10:17-31.
In this passage, it’s clear that the man considers himself good, possibly on par with the Good Teacher. I wonder if Jesus’ objection to being called good is that he knows that no matter how good we think we are, if we look more deeply, there is room to grow and distance to cover. If we truly wish to embody the kingdom of God, we must look carefully at our relationship with our resources. We must consider whether we use our resources to bless others or whether we view them as meant only for personal enrichment.
A commentary on this passage by Luis Menéndez-Antuña points out that this rich man’s possessions would have included slaves. Even though he had done an excellent job of keeping the law, he held people as property, restricting them to a life of captivity and oppression, without freedom or choice. Even if he was a fair and honest businessman, he was still doing harm by building his fortune on the backs of others. When Jesus instructs the man to sell his property and give the money to the poor, he was inviting him to look at the collateral damage of his wealth.
Notice verse 21, where we read, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him…” Jesus challenges the man to redefine his relationship with his material possessions, but he does it in love. We should not feel condemned for our relative wealth. Instead, we should feel lovingly challenged to consider how we use it and whether we could be unknowingly doing harm.
Today, do some research on how some of your possessions are manufactured or procured. Do your favorite brands treat their workers fairly and equitably? Are working conditions safe? Does the company use earth-friendly, sustainable practices? Is it worth spending a little extra to make sure that what you are buying is produced with values that align with your faith? In prayer, give thanks for all that you have and commit yourself to being more mindful about how you use your resources.