I love when the Spirit takes a verse, a sentence, or a few words from scripture and it just jumps out at you. There is so much power in the Word of God (Heb. 4:12)! In a book I am reading, Mark 10:21 was referenced; lets read some more to get the context of the story.
Mark 10:17-22 "17And 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?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You 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.’” 20And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21And 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.” 22Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
The same account of Jesus and the young man are recorded in Matthew 19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23. What jumped out to me was these two little words in in Mark, verse 21: “loved him”.
I had to pause and think about it for a while. What did it mean? As far as I can see, Jesus didn't know this young man. He just came up to Jesus and asked how to inherit eternal life. Whether he was seriously asking or trying to impress Jesus and others by how good he has kept the law we don't know. What we do know is that Jesus cuts right to the young man's heart in His response; v.21: “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.”
There are many things to take out of these verses, but I want to look at the beginning of verse 21 and how Jesus responds to the young man. V.21: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him...” In the Greek, the word loved here is agapáō (definition from HELPS Word-studies below- please read!), the verb form of agapē ("love: the highest form of love, especially brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.”). So, Jesus didn't know him, but was able to speak to him in love and with love.
The point I want to make is that there are times where we need to say what truly needs to be said. Notice, Jesus didn't say, “Good job son, you've kept the commandments, keep it up!” He didn't say what the man wanted to hear or what would make the man feel good. He said what needed to be said, out of His love for the man. We know this because in verse 22 the man was “disheartened by the saying” and “he went away sorrowful”.
I've been there, and you probably have too. Where you know in your heart what needs to be said, but out of fear of not wanting to hurt the other persons feelings, you don't say what truly needs to be said. The truth hurts sometimes. We are better off speaking truth, in love and in a loving way, and risking someone's feelings getting hurt, than to not speak the truth. Jesus wasn't trying to correct this man's behavior, he was getting deep down to his heart, and called out his idolatry of his “great possessions” (v.22).
My encouragement here is for us to be attentive to the Spirit as we talk with people. More than likely it won't happen to a stranger like here in Jesus' case, but it definitely could. For us it's more likely to be with close friends or family members, which is very difficult.
Let us not be fearful...let us speak truth, guided by the Spirit, agapáō, to call people up to God's standard, not man's.
Cognate: 25 agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love; for the believer, preferring to "live through Christ" (1 Jn 4:9,10), i.e. embracing God's will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. 25 (agapáō) preeminently refers to what God prefers as He "is love" (1 Jn 4:8,16). See 26 (agapē).
With the believer, 25 /agapáō ("to love") means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction). True 25 /agapáō ("loving") is always defined by God – a "discriminating affection which involves choice and selection" (WS, 477). 1 Jn 4:8,16,17 for example convey how loving ("preferring," 25 /agapáō) is Christ living His life through the believer.