To lack is to come up short…to not have enough. We live in a world where lack somehow identifies people as ‘not blessed’ yet the majority of the world deals with the lack of basic things I take for granted everyday. During this Thanksgiving season I am especially mindful of this fact.
Notice how the man in our Bible Text comes to Jesus expecting that he is lacking nothing but is told ‘You lack one thing’.
Mark 10:17-23- And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”
Notice again that the thing that Jesus tells him that he lacks is something he has stored up excess of…he has too much (maybe from greed or lack of compassion) so Jesus tells him that his quest to keep the law has come up short.
Now, clearly Jesus was not telling him that giving away his material wealth would earn him entry into heaven but He was showing the man that in all of his law-keeping he had apparently missed the heart intent of the law - love. Love wouldn’t allow someone else to lack something when you have three of them. Love wouldn’t allow you to stand by in the buffet line while people starve. Love wouldn’t have us hoard up treasures for ourselves in the face of abject poverty.
I wonder if the most needy in the world are the ones who hold on too tightly to the things of this world and leave no room for compassion, grace, generosity, etc? I’m sure Jesus knew that this was this man’s stumbling block and that the man’s heart must change before he could ever ‘deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus’. I’ll leave you with the Words of Jesus that were given to a church that was wealthy and rich in the worlds terms but spiritually bankrupt. They were lacking genuine love of the Lord and it was putting them in dire straights. Are you lacking something?
Revelation 3:  “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.  “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.