What Is Your Greatest Treasure?
avatar

Is it  your relationship with Jesus, or is it something else?

A rich young ruler came to Jesus with this question:

http://www.goodsalt.com/details/wjpas0475.html?r=ssnet

Image © Jeff Preston from GoodSalt.com

“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 NLT

Is this a profound question?

It’s really a shallow and selfish question. The young man asking this question is only interested in his own prosperity. A more noble question would be, “How can I express my love for you, Jesus?” Or “How can I be a better member of my community?” But the young ruler is not interested in any of that. He just wants to know, “How do I make sure I get to live forever?”

“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17 NLT

Jesus is looking for conviction. Only God is good. By calling Jesus good, was He also calling Him God? Jesus’ answer surprises some people that, even in the New Testament He refers to commandment keeping. In the New Testament, where we are learning about grace, Jesus is still talking about obedience. He told the man, if you want eternal life, keep the commandments. Later, Paul said,

In this way, God qualified him [Jesus] as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Hebrews 5:9 NLT

By telling him, “Only God is good,” Jesus was looking for a response. Was the man willing to surrender himself and all that he had to God? Or were his riches his real gods?  By telling the man to keep the commandments, Jesus meant more than just doing good deeds to receive eternal life. Jesus wanted a relationship with Him. When the man asked which commands to keep, Jesus quoted a few, all dealing directly with relationships.

You must not murder. [No murdering sounds pretty important to a relationship to me!] You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 19:18-19 NLT

Those are all important to relationships. But we see the rich young ruler is only interested in himself and his own eternal prosperity.

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21 NLT

When Jesus told him to sell everything and give to the poor, Jesus was asking the man to trust Him with his future. He wanted a relationship with this man. But the man was unwilling to give up his greatest treasure − his possessions −  to have a relationship with Jesus

People who desire no relationship with me whatsoever do good deeds for me all the time. Just today, a stranger helped start my car with some jumper cables and then ran off. He was happy to do a good deed but did not desire a relationship with me. The rich young ruler was not interested in following Jesus, but he was interested in doing good deeds if it meant he could live forever. Sound familiar? Do we sometimes get so worked up performing good deeds that we forget to spend time with Jesus and enjoy His company?

The truth is that we can’t truly keep the commandments without a relationship with Jesus. Keeping the commandments to get to heaven is not really keeping them at all! Keeping the commandments in order to achieve an award is self-serving, and a self-serving spirit is totally contrary to the spirit of the law. Earlier the rich young ruler claimed to be a commandment keeper,

“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. Matthew 19:20 NLT

But he was no commandment keeper at all. The first four commandments tell us how to serve Jesus in our relationship with Him, and the last six commandments tell us how to serve others in our relationship with them. You can’t keep the commandments without serving God and others, and the man was quite direct in revealing that his only purpose was to serve himself. Some may be able to keep the letter of the law and pretend to be serving others, but to keep the spirit of the law one must be involved in relationships, serving God and others.

“…he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:22-26 NLT

The rich young ruler went away sad, because he found no joy in serving God and others. He may have been happy to give a large offering to help build a temple, but a continuously dependent relationship of serving God and others, day in and day out, was too much to ask of him.

Even the disciples were amazed that a rich man could not buy his way to heaven. This scared them, because if a rich man could not buy his way to heaven, how could a poor man possibly afford it? Peter reminds Jesus of the price they had paid.

“We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” Matthew 19:27 NLT

By asking the question, Peter puts himself in the same situation as the rich man. Both are asking about a reward, not realizing a relationship with Jesus is its own reward! Peter got to walk with Jesus for 3 1/2 years. What more could he want? If the Queen of England came to Florida to visit me for a couple days, at the end of two days I would not be asking her, “What do I get for spending time with you?” If she graced me with her presence that would be reward enough. How much more so with God!

You can read on in Matthew 19:28-30 NLT, where Jesus tells Peter He will be well taken care of temporally as well as spiritually, But Jesus adds in Matt 19:30 NLT,

But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.

Those who “seem” least important are those who are keeping the commandments, not with a self-serving agenda of becoming great, but rather keeping them simply because they love Jesus and consider their relationship with Him to be their greatest treasure.

He regards more the love and faithfulness with which we work than the amount we do. -Ellen White, Christ Object Lesson, p. 402

What Jesus said to the rich man and Peter, He says to all,

 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33 NLT

God does not require us to give up anything that it is for our best interest to retain. In all that He does, He has the well-being of His children in view. Would that all who have not chosen Christ might realize that He has something vastly better to offer them than they are seeking for themselves. Man is doing the greatest injury and injustice to his own soul when he thinks and acts contrary to the will of God. No real joy can be found in the path forbidden by Him who knows what is best and who plans for the good of His creatures. The path of transgression is the path of misery and destruction. -Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 46. 

Matthew 19:22 NLT says the rich man walked away sad. There is no joy in walking away from Jesus. An obedient relationship with Jesus is what gives life joy and purpose.

We need to examine our own lives. Do we put a relationship with Jesus first in our lives? Or are there other things that we put first? Do we see obedience to the law as a way to enrich our relationships with Jesus and others, or just a “good deed” we can do to make sure we get to live forever? We cannot experience the joy Jesus promised to give us unless we put Him first. Each day we need to surrender all we are and all we have to Him. Then He will fill our lives with joy and purpose.

Share Button

Comments

What Is Your Greatest Treasure? — 30 Comments

  1. You are quite right William. The Christian walk is about our desire to have a relationship with God. The hardest thing for us is to die to self. To put aside our feelings, our interests, our desires and focus on Christ. This is why we have to come to Him each day for help. We can't serve Him sporadically, but every day.

    Like(17)
  2. William, I think the thing that is great about your article is that it is a call to dedication which is something I think we all need.

    Like(5)
  3. Not one act in the life of Christ was unimportant. Every event of His life was for the benefit of His followers in future time.

    In relation to this lovely piece I thought about the time when Mary and Joseph left Jesus behind in Jerusalem without noticing this .( Luke 2:43 )

    The earthly parents of Christ had an active Relationship with him , but when they were preoccupied with earthly things , for 3 days they didn't notice that the Saviour was not within their midst ...

    Although we have a relationship with the Redeemer if it is not MAINTAINED we too run the risk of loosing Him ,so careless to his presence that we are not aware when He is not in our midst .

    When we are aroused to our condition, we will discover that we have preached , counseled ,shared , represented Christ , his law , the church and Christianity without the presence of Him who could have lead us , who could've changed hearts , given salvation , peace and joy to our hearts.

    And it makes me wonder how many now are unaware to their condition ?

    Because of this incident Mary and Joseph has to expand energy , time and resources searching for Him whom they should have retained with them at every moment.

    The same applies to us , we too will have to return and search for the saviour once again . That we may no longer keep the Law without the Law giver !

    "It is the privilege of all to retain Jesus with us . If they do this, their words must be select, seasoned with grace. The thoughts of their hearts must be disciplined to meditate upon heavenly and divine things" ~ That I May Know Him ( Devotional ) , January 23 , titled KEEP THE SAVIOUR WITH YOU! , Ellen White

    Daily in the back of mind , I've been asking myself these questions
    1. How much time did I actively spend with God today ?
    2. Am I making an effort to communicate with God ?
    3. Do I take Christ and his sacrifice for granted ?
    4. Am I sensitive to the Holy Spirit ?
    5.Am I learning more about God in our walk ?

    It's only now that I recognize that this 'unconscious' survey is evidence of an existing relationship between God and I .
    My only caution that it doesn't become ligalistic and that it is done out of Love .

    I love Him so much I don't want to lose him .

    Thank you for sharing this piece with us all , it's really as my father above has said a CALL to dedication ... Self introspection and humbling of ourselves as we more and more awake to our unworthy condition .

    Like(15)
    • Thank you Bibi for such a fitting example for maintaining a relationship with Christ. I have never thought about that story in quite that light. It points out what Mr. Earnhardt so beautifully pointed out, "Each day we need to surrender all we are and all we have to Him. Then He will fill our lives with Joy and Purpose." I dare say, had they checked on Jesus "each day"...

      Like(1)
  4. The bible stated, where your heart is, there is where your treasure will be. A few years ago we went to the insurance to do some business. The clerk mentioned 3 items and asked if we want to insure those items because those are the 3 most valuable things people break in and stole. As he began to mentioned them one by one we realized we do not have any and we asked him to go one telling us about the policy. We did not realized people placed so much interest on those things, probable because of the price of those things. Jesus told us in his word about where our heart should be whether we are rich or poor. Daily we should be seeking for a relationship with Jesus.

    Like(2)
  5. Sometimes I wish we had the same culture that the Jews had back during the first century. I think if we did we probably would understand many things in the Bible that seem strange to us.

    There are a lot of mysterious things I find interesting about the story of the rich young ruler. First is his address to Jesus. He didn’t use the customary term of respect for teachers, Rabbi (rhabbi). Instead he called him teacher (didaskalos). Back then a person could be a didaskalos just by declaring himself to be one. A Rabbi on the other hand was a title similar to master or lord. It carried with it the aura of respect by the Jewish leadership. There are only two times in the Gospels when someone other than the disciples called Jesus Rabbi. One was when Nicodemus called Him Rabbi in the night meeting, the other was by the crowd after the feeding of the 5000 in which Jesus told them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (Jn 6:26 NKJV).

    To me that little insight opens up some questions about the rich young ruler’s understanding of Jesus. It also raises a question about why Jesus replied the way He did, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mat 19:17 NKJV). Could it be that Jesus was drawing him out and getting him to consider the possibility that Jesus was something more than just a man? I see that kind of approach in God asking Adam and Eve where they were and in the way Jesus dealt with the woman at the well.

    Like(3)
    • Tyler, you raise interesting questions. Thanks for pointing out the address of the young man, for it is significant. Although Nicodemus identified Jesu as a Teacher, he addressed Him as Rabbi.
      You quoted: “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (Jn 6:26 NKJV). How about taking the Word of Jesus at face value: "Most assuredly, you seek me (yes, yes, you seek me) not because of signs (not because of what I did and do for you), but because you ate and were filled (but because of what you did and get out of it)".

      Our what we do religion, even profoundly seek justice, and seek the presence of God (Isa 58). Our religion does rejoice in what God has done and does, so that we can ourselves be excited to participate in His religion (Isa. 58; John 6). We find the real Jesus Christ when we go seeking and finding with Him. He walks with me, when I go walking with Him. He did not come to walk my walk, with me. He came to walk His walk, and invite me to walk His walk with Him. I can then celebrate (His talk) in His walk.

      Like(3)
      • Hurford, in the case of Jn 6:26 I think a more direct interpretation is needed. As I see it the crowds were looking at Jesus as their great Santa Claus because of the miracle of the bread. They were thinking that Jesus would give them the riches of the world and abundant leisure. They were not thinking of Jesus as the Messiah, God Himself, the one that would sacrifice Himself in order to take away the sins of the world. It was basically the same unfortunate thinking of the disciples as they argued over who was the greatest in the kingdom, who was going to sit on the right hand of Jesus (Lk 22:24; Mat 20:21-24). They were all thinking of the kingdom of God literally instead of spiritually.

        Like(2)
        • Tyler, I appreciate your comment. It highlights some of the fuzzy thinking we have about salvation even today.

          I think that we sometimes have the idea that salvation is the ultimate luxury retirement plan. In fact salvation has a lot to with living now. So much of what I hear about the benefits of salvation sounds like "cargo-cult" optimism, rather than to do with the reality of current life. There is indeed a heaven to look forward to, but being saved has to do with living life now and facing our responsibilities. It is not about what am I going to get but how can I respond now. Some of us still have to overcome the sin of selfishness.

          Like(4)
        • Tyler, Since I do not come here often, I only found a couple of your responses in my junk e-mail today, 5/25, and decided to check back to find the specific topic you referred to. While in the way, may I respond to your comment in this blog.
          I do concur with you regarding the difference between the mindset or agenda of many who listened to Jesus Christ, versus the intent of the message of Jesus Christ. I was offering another angle of comment, based on the discussion.
          Let me adjust my comment, including a couple typos to more clearly indicate my intent:
          According to God's message to Israel in Isaiah 58, our focus on our "what we do" religion, including our seeking justice, our seeking the presence of God, and our stringent fasting is not the religion God is looking for in His children. We are excited about our active religiosity, but neglect participating with God in the religion God chooses: 'to bind up the broken hearted, to set the captives free, to feed the hungry......".

          It is not our finding Jesus' person in the temple, or on the other side of the Lake, that counts as finding Jesus. Rather, we find the real Jesus Christ when we go seeking and finding with Him, in self-sacrificing love, one with Him in His mission (HIS agenda, HIS will). He walks with me when I go walking with Him. He did not come to walk on my chosen walk, but to invite me to walk His walk with Him. When I celebrate (His talk), it is because I have discovered the joy of walking His walk.

          Intrinsically, it is what you shared regarding having a true understanding of His mission, and freely choosing to be part of that mission.
          God bless in your study and ministry.

          Like(0)
  6. William, thank you for emphasizing having a relationship with Jesus Christ, while recognizing that it is my mind that needs changing to become like His mind, not His mind change to adjust to our condition. The Scripture notes that Jesus Christ looked at the young man and loved him. Jesus truly appreciated the young man's search, Himself acknowledging that the young man came looking the right place, to the right person, as he responded to the call of the Holy Spirit to come, seek, ask.

    The forever unnamed young man asked the very question that human nature and religion taught us to ask; the very question that these SS lessons and our discussions debate: "What can I DO....."?

    Someone going through tremendous struggles phoned me recently in distress: "During the past year I read the Bible and prayed consistently daily; read Daniel and Revelation; read Desire of Ages; prayed three times daily............. how is it then that my mind is so anxious, and getting worse, that now I am on medication?...... Seeing a counselor did not work.... so I called you"?
    My response: "You are going through two very challenging stress generating issues, and it is expected that you will be stressed out. I must compliment you for your consistent ardent searching after God.... Here's a question I would like you to reflect on: You shared many wonderful things you did this past year, reading the Bible, praying, participating.....; what did God do this past year?" Pause. Response: "Well (pause), I guess He gave me strength." When I pointed our that she was very strong in identifying a quantity of very excellent relationship building things she had done, but she barely "I guess" what God did, and asked her to reflect on what God had done, there was a long pause, with nothing forthcoming.

    The young man knew what he had done, and wanted to do more. He didn't know what God had done. He didn't get the point of what God can do with him and for him if he only gave a loaf of bread to a widow in affliction. Our actions as persons and people of God are for gain and success, to better our lives and the lives of our families, to reach out to God and build up His church (Isa. 58). But that is not the fast God has chosen. Our religion is not the quantification of our actions and related successes, whether personal, local church, pastoral, conferences and general conferences, as we boast about what we have done. Our religion is to loose the bands of wickedness, set the captives free, break every yoke, feed the hungry, clothe the naked...like the ministry of Jesus Christ (Isa. 53-61; the Gospels). Go tell the world, and show the world what good things the Lord has done for us.

    If it is only our endeavors in seeking Jesus and to fill our emptiness that we speak of, but have nothing to give Him praise and thanks for in participating in His mission, we will walk away from Jesus Christ un-named.
    When after searching I found Jesus, even in person, did He find me, in my heart?
    I love Bibi's submission and 5 questions. They search for Jesus diligently, like the young man did, and the early verses of Isa 58 indicate. But, sorry, no question about: What did HE do? Did HE find me, bless others in living in me? "In everything give thanks. Rejoice evermore. Praise." (1 Thess 5; Psalms). Ahh, the Psalms!! They are replete with what God has done; and His call for me to give thanks and praise, with reason.

    Like(5)
  7. I must confess that when I first asked the Lord into my life now nearly 40 years ago, it was purely from selfish motives. My life on the surface looked good, but underneath I was empty,confused, and lonely. I asked Jesus to make my life His because I wanted something different. I needed a change. I needed Him. Purely selfish. Yet God in His mercy and grace accepted me anyway.
    How many others can relate to this? How many of us from the outset accept God's offer of salvation from a love for Him? I do not think the desire for eternal life, selfish as it may seem, is entirely an unreasonable desire.
    It is as we grow and learn who Jesus is, what He accomplished on our behalf, and the price He paid for our redemption, that our motives become less selfish, and we learn to love Him. Then, as we mature we may come to a stage when we, like Moses and the apostle Paul, we are willing to have our own names scrubbed form the book of life in favour of those we love. Then we are finally recreated in the image of Christ...willing to surrender life forever for the sake of those we love.
    I can in some ways empathise with the rich young ruler. (Although I'm no longer young, don't rule anyone and certainly not rich). He was seeking eternal life. Nothing wrong with that. Don't we all? And what's more, he was asking the right person. Sadly, he wasn't the first, and most certainly not the last to balk at the price we must all pay...self has got to die.

    Like(4)
    • Brenden, I think we have to remember why self has to die. Self, while alive, cannot be justified and sanctified, and thus fit for dwelling in the presence of God with "exceeding joy". Self is the roadblock for all who will be lost. But for those who understand the Truth, self is willingly sacrificed for what God offers in exchange for our sinfulness. The psalmist's pleading for a clean heart and right spirit will be our plea once we see the sinfulness of sin. I have learned that without God's perspective, I can't abhor sin as He does, so I pray for that heavenly perspective since it doesn't come as standard equipment in this world, and God answers that prayer faithfully. It is by beholding His exceeding goodness, seen in so many ways, that we begin to understand His hatred for what we once loved. This leads to repentance that is genuine and leaves us hungering and thirsting for righteousness, not to avoid hell, but to dwell where the meek will "delight themselves in the abundance of peace!" To be in the very presence of God with joy to worship and praise Him forever. When God is our delight, He will give us the desire of our heart; to be free of all sin in our lives.

      Like(1)
    • Brendan, thanks for your own transparency and clarity in testimony. I think the young man strictly followed the Jewish literal interpretation of God's Decalogue, and in his mind and heart felt a real emptiness that a legal religion did not offer. I think he truly meant it when he sought the presence of Jesus Christ as the answer to His inner hunger, and asked "what lack I yet" beyond doing what the law says to do and not to do.
      Problem is that the no-name young man's "do" religion was not based on a transformed heart, but a rigid works system that gives an ego satisfaction, but leaves the empty heart. From the standpoint of a Biblical psychology of evangelism, Jesus Christ did not call this young man into the new birth or heart transformation, as He did with some others. Rather, Jesus Christ chose to assign the young man a work, befitting his psychological pattern of a works system: "Go sell and give". The hope of Jesus Christ was that this young man's participation in the works of Jesus Christ would offer him another kind of satisfaction that will with time open his eyes to new possibilities of a renewed mind.
      The transition from the American's capitalistic success to the Calvary's self-sacrificing love was a bridge too far to cross; so he walked away with sadness, a sadness that will be terminated only in his burial suit. The heart of Jesus Christ hurt for him. As with Lucifer in Heaven, and as with Adam and Eve, the way to be like God was in possessions, position, wealth and power, with a self-justified clean slate, rather than the heart of God's love. God help us.

      Like(0)
    • Brendan, let me more directly respond to your personal sharing. Like you, and like most of us, I have been going through the purification of my motives, including directly asking this of the Lord, being so aware that my prayers cause painful groanings of the Holy Spirit, as He bears my prayers to our Father. What a far stretch to be "pure in heart, for they shall see God". This makes me incredibly grateful to our Father for the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection grants me His worthiness and righteousness, so that I may see God. It is not what I have done, nor what I have been, but His substituting His place for my place, and my place for His place, so that I may live with Him forever. What a GOD! Grateful.

      Like(0)
  8. Thanks for such detailed explanation of the young ruler's questions. However, his question was appropriate to his degree of conviction. You have the after thought question, but he had the conviction question. How many times have we been told to sell some of what we have and give to the poor, and we walked away feeling no remorse.Jesus said, "What ever you do to one of these you have done it unto me."
    Peter's question was also appropriate; he had looked forward to eternal life even before Jesus came on the seen. Which is more rewarding, spending few years with Jesus or achieving eternal life? If you were given the choice to spend three years with Jesus or to be caught up with Him at the second coming, which would you choose?

    Like(3)
    • Sharon, do I have to choose, or can I take both? I would love for Jesus to walk with me here, because I choose to walk in His path; and like my earthly father loves to say of Enoch, "he walked so close to God, he walked straight into Heaven". That's a pretty nice walk with Jesus, wouldn't you say?

      Like(1)
    • Dear Ariyo and others, but do not forget there is nothing wrong with becoming rich or being rich. The rich leader was not condemn for being rich, or for being young, nor for having much. But because his heart was not fix on God therefore he did not had a relationship with God, Jesus condemn his works. His heart and his works did not go together. He was told to sell all, give to the poor and come and follow Jesus. The question is asked, is Jesus telling us the same thing today? Some might claim the aren't rich so Jesus is not telling me that, but we have to deal with the principle of the matter.

      Like(1)
  9. I found that the typical christian when asked 'why do you want to go to heaven?', the reply is-because I do not want to go to hell. Many see heaven as an escape from hell so they work hard to go to heaven. In doing so, those who hold that view and similar views aren't going to heaven. The rich young ruler had that same view. He wanted to know what else to do to go to heaven? Why do we want to go to heaven? I was told Enoch lived on earth and earth was like heaven to him. When you have a relationship with Jesus, despite the raging storms, the falling skies, your anchor should be in the Lord. He was so closed to Jesus on earth, Jesus took him to be with him in heaven. What about us?

    Like(1)
    • Marva, you said, "Many see heaven as an escape from hell so they work hard to go to heaven. In doing so, those who hold that view and similar views aren't going to heaven. The rich young ruler had that same view. He wanted to know what else to do to go to heaven?" You may be right. However, I am thinking that he had the same mistaken idea that the majority of Jews had at that time that one is saved by doing something.

      When Jesus took him deeper into the law, he saw that he essentially failed the first three commandments and realized that he placed another God above the one in Heaven he became discouraged because he was unable to detach himself from his God - he looked at himself for the solution.

      Immediately after that the disciples also had some questions of their own for they were hung up on the Jewish idea that the rich were automatically blessed by God and therefore Heaven bound. It was basically the same thorny concept that Nicodemus had that rich leaders like himself were automatically saved while others were not. But Jesus turned the tables around by saying, "For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Lk. 18:25 NKJV).

      To the disciples then the question came, "Who then can be saved?" (Lk. 18:26 NKJV) Jesus then gave the correct solution to man's problems including that of the rich young ruler who was looking in the wrong direction for the solution, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Lk. 18:27 NKJV). Man's salvation has never been within man but outside of him. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Cor. 3:18 NKJV). "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5 NKJV).

      To me the rich young ruler should have been like the father of the child with an unclean spirit, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mk. 9:24 NKJV).

      Like(2)
  10. Good thoughts to consider William. While the rich young man's question can be seen as selfish, doesn't it express his need even more? It was the only way he could ask the question, because the wealthy young man came to Jesus feeling the lack which was missing in his life, but when told what it was, went away "grieving". This reveals the drawing and convicting power of the Holy Spirit at work. We read that the transgressors of God's law "have no rest day or night", and I am certain this man's rest was disturbed until he found some artificial way to forget the conviction that sought to turn him from a terrible fate that is inescapable. This reveals God is seeking to save us until our refusing leaves us incapable of hearing His knocking.

    But what is a relationship with Jesus? Isn't it offered to us in a most attractive and promising light? The promises of God are scattered throughout the sacred Truth of His Word and only self-worship will keep us from seeing the beautiful promises of all that God would give us freely. Only by perfectly trusting God, who has given ample evidence of being perfectly trust-worthy, will we find peace from the grieving that will follow us all our days if we turn from the greatest opportunity offered to every son and daughter of fallen Adam to become sons and daughters of God again. This is what Jesus offered the young man, and holds out to all today. It will bring what David called "the joy of salvation", and Isaiah 26:3 calls it "perfect peace".

    I love how Ps 37 (one of many such passages), if seen correctly, gives us a simple plan to follow that will lead us to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and not one needs to go away grieving! Imagine how much more it grieves the LORD to see even one soul grieving while He offers His perfect peace. God's rich promises abound!

    Like(1)
    • Robert, I think I owe the young man the same respect I owe you if I am personally listening to you. I cannot judge other than believing he genuinely felt an emptiness in his heart, which is definitely true of a works religion, and asked "what lack I yet"? I see his coming to Jesus Christ, and making his first request, in the form of a question, was a response to the working of God's Holy Spirit upon his heart as He heard the message of Jesus Christ.

      There is no difference between ancient Jewish and modern Catholicism and Seventh-day Adventist works religion, and whosoever's hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. I believe the young man wanted what Jesus preached, but denial of self was too soon, too drastic, too much. I wonder how many of us on this blog will be willing to right now, right here, decide to sell everything, including our property and cars, and follow Jesus on His dusty trails of meager earthly. Especially considering Marva's dream of great wealth, or reluctance to let go her wealth, after listening to so many sermons of Creflo Dollar and Benny Hinn? (Kidding Marva). If it ain't easy for many of us to return a faithful tithe and give 5% offerings non-stop, how do I suddenly go from 15% on top of Uncle Sam's 25%, then let to the rest 60% to the poor? Call the boy selfish? Not me. Kudos galore to Peter and Matthew and the reet of the boys for dropping all, pronto, and following Jesus Christ, daily for three + years, then follow that up with beatings and imprisonments and even stonings and death. Jesus is asking for a lot, the whole kaboos

      Like(0)
      • Hurford, I appreciate all your comments and this one especially because I think it is an honest assessment of the problem we have with wealth. I suspect that a lot more is going on in the story of the rich young ruler than we generally recognize. The big question that I have is why Jesus didn’t ask the same of Nicodemus who was rich beyond belief, probably a multibillionaire by today’s standards. Or, why He didn’t ask the same of Zacchaeus who the Bible says, “was a chief tax collector, and he was rich (Lk 19:2 NKJV). Why did He single out only this one person?

        As far as the immediacy of the command goes I think we need to understand that the call by the sea Jesus gave to His disciples was a full year into the Lord’s ministry. For an entire year those would be disciples were sporadically with Him in part-time ministry spending time in both fishing and ministry. So Jesus recognizes the struggle and desires for us to consider the entire situation then after calm deliberation to make a firm choice.

        What we don’t have in the story of the rich young ruler is a lot of background information or any extended dialog Jesus may have had with the man. We can most certainly assume that the Holy Spirit was working on him and that his problem was his money which he apparently made into a God. More than likely the man’s life was completely controlled by his wealth. While most of us do have a problem with money it usually isn't the only thing in our lives. There are other considerations that enter into the decisions we make but apparently that was not the case in this story.

        As I said I think Jesus was drawing him but the man stopped short of asking for help. His money was the most important thing in his life, in fact, too important to even begin to consider separating from. Therefore he firmly rejected the notion and wouldn’t take the dialog any further. He wanted to be saved but on his terms not God’s.

        Like(0)
  11. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and contributions to this discussion. I was reading in Revelation this morning and realized there are some similarities between the rich young ruler and the church of Laodicea. Both were works orientated. Jesus tells the Loadicean church "I know your works." The rich young ruler is asking "what good deed" must I do to have eternal life. But their works are void of the warm love they should have for Jesus, which leaves them lukewarm. Both thought they were rich, but were poor in a relationship with Jesus, which is why He knocks on the heart's door of Laodicea asking to come in and sup with them, and tells the rich young ruler to follow after Him.

    Like(1)
  12. Another fine article.

    Quoted: “An obedient relationship with Jesus is what gives life joy and purpose.” This joy is not really optional for those who would live godly.

    In pushing back against a perceived evil one may go so far as to undermine another virtue, principle or good thing. This is evident when in the resistance to legalism grace is made the enemy of law, and the consequence is lawlessness. The same is the case when in the opposition to cold formal religion, joy is set above and competes with obedience and the result is feelings based Christianity. Such joy is questionable.

    What is this joy which is important to our relationship with Christ? This is not a common joy, which may be found in the unconverted. It is not an emotional high, an ecstatic experience or simply a nice feeling, though it need not exclude these. Scripture presents this joy as a component of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). Christ linked Christian joy to love and commandment keeping (John 15:10-12).

    The joy is a principle arising from a settled relationship with Jesus. It is contentment and assurance in the love of Christ which is unchanged by circumstances. It is a kind of security in the presence of our Redeemer and marriage partner, Christ. When we face troubles or experience heartaches, the joy remains as a sustaining element. And when we do not feel like doing right it constrains us as one who is in love and is only pleased to please the love interest.

    This is the joy which allowed Paul and Silas to sing praises in prison (Acts 16:22-25). It was the joy which allowed the martyrs of the dark ages to faithfully make their way to the stake. It is the joy which will keep the spirit buoyant as the faithful face the final time of trouble.

    Christian joy keeps a song in the heart. It flows from love and is present with all who are truly in love with Christ.

    Like(0)
  13. "Jesus is looking for conviction. Only God is good. By calling Jesus good, was He also calling Him God? Jesus’ answer surprises some people that, even in the New Testament He refers to commandment keeping. In the New Testament, where we are learning about grace, Jesus is still talking about obedience. He told the man, if you want eternal life, keep the commandments. Later, Paul said,

    In this way, God qualified him [Jesus] as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Hebrews 5:9 NLT"

    Your use of this passage gave me pause, and led me to first read the context of the verse and Mrs. White's commentary on it. As I suspected, it argues not that Jesus qualified as High Priest and became salvation through His obedience, rather He qualified through His suffering and His obedience was made perfect through His suffering. It seems to me that all of Christ's obedience would have been for naught if it did not lead Him to go through the agony and suffering of Gethsemane, and the unthinkable anguish of separation from His Father. This willingness to be spent up for us qualified Him to be our High Priest. And when we obey His commandments by His grace (strength, power) we show our love for Him.

    Here's the commentary:

    "The Captain of our salvation was perfected through suffering. His soul was made an offering for sin. It was necessary for the awful darkness to gather about His soul because of the withdrawal of the Father’s love and favor; for He was standing in the sinner’s place, and this darkness every sinner must experience. The righteous One must suffer the condemnation and wrath of God, not in vindictiveness; for the heart of God yearned with greatest sorrow when His Son, the guiltless, was suffering the penalty of sin. This sundering of the divine powers will never again occur throughout the eternal ages (Manuscript 93, 1899).

    Like(0)
    • Van, Thank you for your comment, however the passage was not used to show Jesus' qualification as High priest by suffering. The passage was used to show that those who are saved are those who obey Him. I may be wrong, but I am wondering if you are actually referring to the verse before in Hebrews 5:8 that talks about Jesus learning obedience through suffering. The text I quoted in Hebrews 5:9 did not even mention the suffering of Jesus. The point is simply that those who receive salvation obey Him.

      Like(2)
  14. Only the Holy Spirit can awaken in the heart a genuine spiritual awakening such that we seek to live for more than just fire insurance.
    I pray for this for myself and for just about everyone else I know.

    Like(0)

What do you think? If you like a comment, just [Like] it or post a thoughtful reply. Please provide a working email address and your real first AND last name to have your comment published.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.