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“Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” -Mark 10:21

Jesus had been teaching and performing miracles for some time. He had fed thousands of people and healed the sick across the region. His fame must have been spreading because a man recognized Him one day, ran up to Him, and fell at His feet.

The man had one question for Jesus: “‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17)?’”

The man seemed to be an upright citizen. He honored Jesus and had kept the 10 Commandments since his youth. His question might have stemmed from pride, thinking he had done everything necessary to earn eternal life. But Jesus knew the man’s heart and responded with love and pity. He told him to sell everything he had and not to keep the money for himself but give it to the poor.

You might think the man would have rejoiced since Jesus gave him the answer he was seeking. But instead, the man only thought of all the wealth he would lose and walked away defeated.

Jesus had warned to not store up “‘treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).’” Treasures on Earth are temporary and cannot come with us when we die, but treasures in Heaven are eternal. If our hearts are tied to worldly treasures, then we are focusing our attention on things that will not last.

It is not a sin to have great possessions, but the Lord knows that possessions distract us from worshipping Him. The man who ran up to Jesus was worshipping his wealth more than his God. Jesus told him to sell all he had because He knew the man had to let go of his possessions to freely and fully follow God.

Storing up treasures in Heaven rather than on Earth allows believers to freely give to God’s Kingdom purposes. Storing up treasures in Heaven allows believers to easily leave possessions behind if God gives the call to go. Storing up treasures in Heaven allows believers to have a heart fully available to worship God.

Jesus told His disciples that it is difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is not because of the riches themselves but because the possessions can consume the heart of a rich person. The good news is that God knows how difficult it is to let go of the love of possessions and does not expect His followers to do this on their own (Mark 10:27). It is by His strength that followers of Christ can learn to store up their treasures in Heaven.

Not all believers must sell everything they have to follow God, but all must put God above any worldly treasures.