If Jesus came to me in person, how likely would it be that He would ask me to sell my possessions because He saw they were the center of my heart?
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" 17 "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments." 18 "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'" 20 "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?" 21 Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23 "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." - Matthew 19:16-24
It seems to me that this young man fell victim to self-righteousness and the love of money. He feels self-righteous because he has kept the whole law and seems to think he has now earned eternal life, apart from Christ and apart from having a new nature (born again). We must remember that the new covenant demands circumcision of the heart (internal righteousness), not the flesh (external). Although he has kept the whole law, he still has the same old heart and money loving nature, and Jesus knows it. When Jesus confronts this, he chooses his money god over Jesus and eternal life. It makes God jealous when we have our needs met by our money, rather than Him, and He will not compete. It’s so tempting to trust in money because it’s tangible and readily available to meet our needs. This is why Jesus said, it is virtually impossible for the rich to go to heaven.
You can’t come to Jesus unless you are willing to give up everything, and giving up wealth is one of the hardest things. This is why it takes an act of God to do the impossible of opening a rich person’s eyes. Wealth can be such a seductive trap. We are to serve God and use money, but we can’t do that without a brand new nature. Being born again and surrendering to the Spirit of Christ in us is what makes the impossible, possible.
Remember, giving up everything is not necessarily about losing everything or always having to sell everything. It is far more about removing it from the center of your heart and remaining detached from them. It is possible that you could sell everything and still keep it all in your heart. That would not be giving up everything in God’s eyes. He must be more important than any relationship or possession and we must choose to live with open hands, knowing God could remove them at anytime He pleases, and we would still love and trust Him.