“Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21a)
I think the wealthy man who asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life wanted Jesus to pat him on the back for all of his obedience of the commandments. I think the man wanted Jesus to say something like:
“Way to go! I’m so proud of you! I know that’s probably been tough to do, but I’m impressed with your obedience. Good job!”
But Jesus didn’t do what this man expected… but he certainly LOVED him. So “love” does not always mean thankfulness and pride for obedience, rather what the person really needs.
What this man really needed was exposure to what he depended on more than God: his wealth and his position. It wasn’t necessarily his self-righteousness or moral obedience to the Law he was depending on, rather the accumulation of wealth and status. What this man really needed wasn’t praise for his moral obedience, but both a challenge and exposure of what he was really depending on for salvation.
This is how Jesus “loved” him.
It seems that parents think that “loving” their children is providing for whatever they want and praising the good things that they do. Surely this isn’t a bad thing, right? No. Absolutely not. What is bad is if that is all a parent does to “love” their children.
- Parents also “love” their children when they challenge and stretch them.
- Parents also “love” their children when they see cracks in their character or malformed thoughts or behavior patterns that need correcting, and they take the time and energy to help correct it.
Children need to be shown and taught how to live and act appropriately in this world, and it’s the job of the parents to shape and guide the outcome of their children. That’s what real “love” is. Sure our children need to be praised and encouraged, but not exclusively and to the exclusion of correction. Love requires a combination of both encouragement and challenge.
Jesus, in this account, really “loves” this man, but once exposed and challenged, the wealthy man withdrew because he had much to lose… and it was on his wealth that he rested his salvation and life security. Jesus knew what the man really needed and he wanted to expose that need. It would have taken great faith for the rich man to sell all of his stuff, stockpile treasure in heaven, and follow Jesus. And that is what the wealthy man really needed: faith. And that is what God wants from us as well: our total faith and surrender.
This applies to me personally as well as how I parent my children.