v. 17 If you WISH to enter into life . . . keep the commandments
v. 21 If you WISH to be complete . . . sell all you have, give to the poor, follow Me
The commandments of the Law (in general) and the commands of Christ (specifically) serve as a barometer by which man's desires can be discerned and measured. Jesus challenges us with this question: "What do you really want? Eternal life? Heavenly treasure? ME? Your stuff?"
Not every disciple is faced with this challenge right at the start, but eventually the worthiness of Jesus Christ will lay its rightful claim on everything else. Like Abraham, we will be asked to choose: God or His blessings? God or our dreams? God or self-will? A day is coming when we can have only God - or NOTHING - and on that day the thing we choose to put in His place will be separated away from us. In the grave we can no longer cling to earthly idols. Better to peel our greedy fingers off of them before death does it for us . . . but how?
In both cases, the Lord uses the Greek word, THELO.
THELO - To desire, be inclined toward; to delight in, have pleasure; to intend
If he had poured out his religious riches and declared himself spiritually bankrupt, he may have found it possible to give up worldly things in exchange for heavenly treasure. When we realize the eternal misery we deserve, and begin to comprehend the incredible mercy of God, temporal sacrifices become much easier to make. And they are then made for the right reasons. It's a matter of gratitude, worship, and love for a gracious God - not merits of self-righteousness. If the Almighty God demands pure devotion and complete surrender from little worms like us, we can be assured He will work in us to bring it about - providing we trust in Him.
"Give what You command, and command what You will."
"By the law of works God says: Do what I command! By the law of faith we say to God: Give what you command! After all, the law commands in order to remind us of what faith should do.”
-Augustine of Hippo
Why can't camels get through a needle? It's obvious: they're too large. But for every camel, there was a time when the needle's eye could easily have been navigated. All mammals begin their physical existence as a tiny group of life-packed cells (only one cell to begin with). To get back to such a place, a camel would have to be . . . born again. Dear friends, it is the same for you and me.