"...Jesus...said to him, 'You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have...and come, follow Me.' But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich" (Luke 18:22-23).
Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven't, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.
Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, "Sell all that you have...and come, follow Me." Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him - He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.
Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened - not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain - He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.