Mark 10 contains a reminder we all need at times: God loves us, and because he loves us, he always tells us the truth. God tells me the truth about himself, myself, and life the way it was meant to be as an expression of the love he has for me.
Sometimes, the truth about my blind spots, shortcomings, and the potential I’m not living up to is hard for me to hear. In fact, it can be very tempting to turn the truth on its head: if God loves me, he’ll never tell me something that’s hard for me to hear. He’ll never demand from me something that costs me a great deal, or hurt my feelings, or tell me I’m falling short. Why? Because he loves me.
If that’s the way I’ve chosen to think about God, I need to come face-to-face with Jesus in Mark 10.
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. (Mark 10:17-22)
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…” Because Jesus loved him, he told him the truth–truth that was really uncomfortable, demanding, and hard to hear. Love tells the truth. Not in an ugly, prideful, “I’m better than you” sort of way. Remember…
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Cor 13:4-6)
In fact, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and because he loves you, he tells you the truth. In his word. By his example. With his teaching. Through his people who are faithfully answering his call to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). That young man, having heard Jesus, had a choice. So do I. So do you. What comes next? Let’s be honest…
Sometimes, the truth about what I’m lacking is disheartening. Sometimes, the unvarnished truth humbles me in a really painful way. Sometimes, the truth shines light in a darkened corner of my heart that I’d rather keep hidden. Sometimes, submitting to the truth can cost me a great deal. Sometimes, walking in the pathway of truth will feel like carrying a cross (Mark 8:34). But do you remember what the One who actually blazed that path said next? “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:35).
Jesus unashamedly tells me the truth I need to hear because he loves me. He wants to help me learn the truth, know the truth, walk in the truth, and rejoice with the truth because the truth, and only the truth, can set me free (John 8:32).
It’s a simple reminder, but maybe you needed it today: Jesus tells me what I need to hear because he loves me. If he didn’t love me, he wouldn’t tell me.
That rich young man in Mark 10 heard the truth and “went away sorrowful,” but his life didn’t get better by walking away from Jesus. If he never came back, consider what it cost him. “Treasure in heaven.” Let’s not make the same mistake. Jesus continues to call. “Come, follow me.” His teaching, reproof, correction, and training along the way may be hard to hear at times, but if it sets us free, shouldn’t we “rejoice with the truth”? If his light is illuminating the path of life, won’t it be worth following the Good Teacher’s loving lead, all the way home?