Timing and context is everything here. Note that this is an instruction to a specific person at a specific time and place. It is to a Jew, living under the Old Covenant Law.
16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which?” And Jesus said, “You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have observed; what do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
Note that Jesus says to this (Old covenant Jew) that for him to have eternal life, he needs to comply with the covenant as it currently existed. Keep to the Law.
But the young man (rightly) seeks perfection…This indicates that he was probably at the Sermon on the Mount and heard Jesus call his followers to perfection (Mt 5:48). It is when he asks, “what do I still lack”, that Jesus presents him with this instruction to achieve perfection.
The instruction is to divest himself of all his worldly attachments. To let go and to follow Christ. The fact that the young man went away sorrowful confirms the fact that the young man was indeed “attached” to the world, and to his possessions.
It is this “attachment” that we need to understand.
Does that mean all Christians have to sell everything and give everything to the poor and follow Christ and live without anything and live without any wealth whatsoever?
No - the problem here is that you are looking act the “Act” rather than the lesson. The act of selling everything off, is worthless without proper understanding of the lesson and if the lesson is properly understood, then the proper acquisition, use and disposal of goods will naturally follow.
So we come back to attachment…Think seriously and carefully. Could you sell all that you have, take up your cross and follow Jesus? The answer to this that springs from your heart tells you something of how attached you are to the things of this world.
Does it mean no one should be rich or have any pleasure in life?
Pleasure should come from serving the Lord - so certainly we should have pleasure in life.
"Rich is a term that can only be defined in comparison to “not rich”.
In matters of finance, being “rich” can only happen if others are “poor”. If all had the same, then no one is “rich”, and no one is “poor”.
That said…a person can have “control” of large amounts of money that, because of his God given talent, he uses to provide employment for a great many of God’s Children. He does not see the money as “riches” but as a tool for the benefit of his fellows.
So - “Rich” and “wealth” can be seen in different lights depending on the spiritual health of the individual…
Was it only meant for preists,nuns,monks??:shrug:
No - it is not meant just for consecrated religious. It is meant for all of us, but in different ways.
What I have shared above is one angle on this matter. Others will provide perspectives that differ somewhat…Not in their goal but in their expression. I hope that when put all together our answers will be of great help to you.