"Because Ye Belong To Christ"

“For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.”
Mark 9.41

Belonging to Christ is the greatest blessing a man can have. It not only brings reward in this life but in the life to come. We read of this dual reward in Mark 10.28-30:“Peter began to say to him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘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.’

This statement came on the heels of Jesus’ conversation with a rich ruler who had asked him about the requirements for inheriting eternal life (Mark 10.17). Jesus’ reply was to observe the law (Mark 10.19). He had done this (Mark 10.20). Jesus, then, out of love for him, told him of one thing that he lacked. The one thing stood between him and Jesus. We read, “Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But he was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property” (Mark 10.21-22).

As you read the words above, do you truly understand what this ruler lacked? I fear that with many of us, it is the same problem. Jesus spoke on this same matter to his disciples in Luke 12.33-34: “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Job prayed, “If I have made gold my trust or called fine gold my confidence, if I have rejoiced because my wealth was abundant or because my hand had found much, if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor, and my heart has been secretly enticed, and my mouth has kissed my hand, this also would be an iniquity to be punished…for I would have been false to God above” (Job 31.24-28).

Where are our hearts? The answer lies in where our treasure is. This ruler’s covetousness of his earthly wealth stood between him and Jesus’ offer of eternal life. He couldn't have both, yet that is what he was attempting to do. Yes, he had kept the law. But he had also kept his riches. As long as he could keep his riches, he would keep the law. Read that last sentence again. Is that how it is with us? Is our mindset, “I will follow Jesus as long as I can keep _______” (Fill in the blank with your treasure)?

Covetousness will keep us from eternal life. But what about this life? Will it cause us to lose anything in this life? Consider 1 Timothy 6.10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3.5). The idol is selfishness (Luke 12.21). Covetousness will keep us from belonging to Jesus.

It is interesting to ponder what prompted this ruler to come to Jesus. We simply aren’t told whether it was out of sincerity or out of guilt. Either way, this we do know: He left sorrowful upon being told to part with his possessions. His love for them was too great. Was he happy? Perhaps, but again, we do not know. Many a rich person can be generous with his wealth. Generosity is a good trait, but being generous is not the issue here. Remember, a lawyer also asked Jesus the same question as this ruler (Luke 10.25). We know he sought to justify himself. The issue is this: Are we willing to give up what we hold dear - be it money, family, prestige, traditions, or even self - in order to follow Jesus?

We need to be reminded of the words of a hymn that teaches the truth about earthly treasures: “Earth holds no treasure, but perish with using…” Belonging to Christ brings a treasure that will never perish. Peter called it “an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1.4).

Let us trust in what God said about the way to be happy in this life and in the next life. Let us set our hopes “on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6.17-19).