When the rich young ruler asked Jesus how to win eternal life, Jesus didn’t respond with anxiousness or concern; he made no attempt to keep the ruler there with him. He simply stated what the ruler had to do: “Sell everything you have. . . . Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). Our Lord never pleaded. He never cajoled or entrapped. He simply spoke the sternest words mortal ears ever heard, then left it alone.

Have you ever heard the Lord say something stern to you? If you haven’t, I question if you’ve ever heard him say anything at all. Jesus Christ says a great deal that we listen to but do not hear. When we do hear, we find that his words are amazingly hard.

If I have listened deliberately to Jesus when he’s said something difficult to me, I know that I can’t just explain it away. It’s something meant specifically for me, something which demands I make a choice. The ruler understood the choice Jesus was giving him. He heard Jesus’s words, thought about what obeying them would mean, and decided he couldn’t do it. He didn’t go away from Jesus defiantly; he went sadly, with a broken heart. The ruler had come to Jesus full of the fire of earnest desire, and Jesus’s words froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion, they produced heartbreaking discouragement.

There was a reason Jesus let the ruler leave in this dejected state: our Lord knows perfectly well that once his word is heard, sooner or later it will bear fruit. The terrible thing is that some of us prevent it from bearing fruit in our present lives. I wonder what we will say when we do make up our minds to be devoted to him. One thing is certain: he will never shame us for our past refusals to hear him.

Wisdom from Oswald

It is not what a man does that is of final importance, but what he is in what he does. The atmosphere produced by a man, much more than his activities, has the lasting influence.  Baffled to Fight Better, 51 L