“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” — Mark 10:21–22
A wealthy and self-righteous young man has come to Jesus. In his society, he would have been highly respected. Most people would have considered his wealth a sign of God’s blessings.
Yet, Jesus knew that he was covetous and unwilling to part with his wealth. This is sin and one that would keep him from being saved. And Jesus had to tell him.
Before Jesus rebukes His greed, we read that, “Jesus beholding him loved him…” Jesus is about to speak some tough words that he will not like but that he needs to hear. But the heart behind everything Jesus is going to say and do is love. Though he did not like it, the most loving thing Jesus could do was tell him what he needed to hear.
This is a real challenge for all of us. Do we hate those who love us enough to tell us the truth? Do we think that love only says what others want to hear? If we really love people, we will tell them of their sin and their need to trust in Jesus. And if we do this, we run the risk, that, like the rich young ruler, they will be upset (“grieved” v.22) by what we say.
Speaking the truth in love is essential for our own spiritual growth and well-being (Eph 4:15), but it requires high levels of Christ-like love to be effective. And even then, it may not be received very well.