There is an abundance of resources available to aid people in the area of evangelism, of how to share your faith in a way that leads others to Christ for salvation. I am sure that they would all agree that the best scenario would be one where the person who is lost asks the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" For this question is from someone that is presumably ready to make a decision for Jesus and simply needs to be taught how.
This is the situation that Jesus, the master evangelist, found Himself in one day when a rich young ruler came up to Him. (see Mark 10:17-31) Jesus answers the man's question by first mentioning the Law and listing some of the 10 commandments which related to how we interact with others, "Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, etc." (see v.19) To which the young man replied, "Teacher, I have kept all those things from my youth up." (see v.20) I imagine that the young man was getting excited at this point as he seemed to meet the requirements. Surely he qualifies for this great and wonderful gift called eternal life because he has earned it through his hard work and diligent obedience to the Law.
Verse 21 then says, "Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, "One thing you lack: go sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me."
Now let's be very clear. Jesus was not saying that the way to salvation was keeping the Law and selling all of your possessions to give to the poor. In fact, His response is helping the young man to see something even greater than just possessing eternal life, but how does one experience the fullness of it now. So Jesus asked him about the Law and then instructed him to sell all his belongings because Jesus was leading him to discover what He was really after, which was this young man's heart.
Did you notice what Jesus felt towards this man? Jesus loved him. Not because he had kept the commands, the behaviour of this man was not the issue. In fact, it wasn't nearly enough. Instead, Jesus wanted this young man to love Him with all of his heart. So Jesus asked him to give up what he treasured in this world the most, his material possessions, so that he would then be able to give his heart fully to Jesus and follow Him.
And what was the young man's response? "But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property." (see v.22) He was unwilling to give up what he treasured most and follow Jesus. He decided that his real treasure, his property, was too valuable to him to give up. And the result, he grieved, he was left unsatisfied.
Have you ever wondered how the story would have gone if it was you asking Jesus the question instead of the rich young ruler? What would, or is, Jesus asking you to give up to come walk with Him today, after salvation? And to be clear, it is not that poverty is more holy or going without something that is the issue. Sometimes giving something up doesn't mean losing it, but setting it aside within our heart. It is discovering how to possess something without it possessing you.
Maybe Jesus is asking you to surrender your finances or financial security like the young man. It could be a relationship such as your marriage, or your kids, or a friendship. It may be your job, your reputation or your personal freedom, happiness or comfort. What is Jesus asking you to give up, to surrender, to lay aside in your heart, so that you can fully belong to and follow Him?
Too often we focus on what we are losing, but it should be more about what we are gaining. At the end of the passage Jesus promises, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life."
The cost of following Jesus is great, everything that you hold dear. But the reward is even greater - knowing and experiencing an intimate relationship with Jesus. That is eternal life.
In Christ who is our Life,