I do not suppose that the youth was one whom ordinary people would call a lover of money; I imagine he was just like most good men of property: he valued his possessions—looked on them as a good. I suspect that in the case of another, he would value a man more who had means, value a man less who had none—like most who are reading these words. They have not a notion how entirely they will one day have to alter their judgment, or have it altered for them, in this respect: well for them if they alter it themselves! From this false way of thinking, the Lord would deliver the young man. As the thing was, he was a slave, for a man is in bondage to whatever he cannot part with that is less than himself. The young man would enter into freedom and life, delivered from the bondage of mammon by the lovely will of the Lord in him, one with his own. By the putting forth of the divine energy in him, he would escape the corruption that is in the world through lust—that is, the desire or pleasure of having. But the young man would not.
Was the Lord then premature in his demand? Was the youth not ready for it? I do not believe it. He gave him the very next lesson in the divine education for which he was ready; it was time the demand should be made upon him. It was time that he should refuse, so that he would know what manner of spirit he was of, and meet the confusions of soul, the sad searchings of heart that must follow. A time comes to every man when he must obey, or make such refusal—and know it.
by Dale Darling
What a blessed thing that MacDonald was tossed out of a formal church as a preacher and teacher, and instead wrote these sermons. What blessing for those who now read these sermons. Surely many other sermons, similar to those MacDonald wrote, were spoken by those that sought first the kingdom, and hungered and thirsted after righteousness, who knew they were known as MacDonald knew, that were gifted in speaking, that were obedient to encourage, rebuke, and build up our kin.
Just so, Jesus in us continues to teach the very next lesson in the divine education for which we are ready. The young man, in bondage to something less than himself, knew his need, not quite as Jesus knew the young man's need, but he knew enough to come to Christ with hope. Even though he would not follow Jesus due to his slavery to Mammon, MacDonald was certain it was a temporary delay, that the young man would one day obey. But this was the time when a refusal was required in order that the young man would know that bondage to the world was slavery to stuff. Jesus had begun the good work of obedience and the young man, and His work would be complete when the young man obeyed Jesus' call and escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Even though the young man thought he wanted bread, at that time he was more attracted to stones.
Are we storing up treasures in heaven? Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.