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Tuesday: The Rich Young Ruler — 11 Comments

  1. I’m not rich so it is easy for me to have an “I told you so” attitude to the story of the rich young ruler. But on reflection, it’s not just the money, is it? Social standing, educational prowess, influencer on Sabbath School Net, and so on are all things that can get in the way of our relationship with God and one another. We all fall prey to those prized possessions which we think are a blessing from God, but in fact, have become a millstone around our necks.

    Some of us need to do a reality check from time to time. Why am I doing this? How can we be good at something and remain humble? Jesus’ instruction to the rich young ruler was not an indictment against being rich – rather it was an instruction to get the perspective right. And that is sometimes very hard. For the record, I have seen very poor people obsessed with trying to get rich. In fact, that is what drives most of the gambling industry and other speculative money-making schemes.

    It is necessary for us to ask ourselves, what we have in our storehouses that we are accumulating for ourselves rather than sharing with others.

  2. What is going on at the core of the rich young ruler? Yes, he ended up trading eternity for possessions, but this was only an outcome of something deeper. Given that there are only two possible 'orientations' to life and living that a person can come from - self-oriented verses other-oriented - which one do you see reflected in this man's actions and responses?

    This young man's experience is in contrast to that of another rich and influential man - David - who responded differently when he too was brought to a point of awareness in his life that something was missing...

    "Examine me, and probe my thoughts!
    Test me, and know my concerns!
    See if there is any idolatrous (self-based) tendency in me,
    and lead me in the reliable ancient path!" Psalm 139:23-24 (NET Bible)

    Is this a prayer you are interested in ongoingly being mindful of?

    • There are certain scriptures Christ has put on my heart, and this is one of my favorites. I jump for joy every time I see it.

    • My reading of this story is that this young man was doing all he thought he could for God, but there was something holding him back and he wanted to break free of that “something.” This earnest yearning is what brought him to Jesus. In this, I see a parallel with the psalm you quoted. This young man, just like David, wanted to be free from what was holding him from loving God without reservation. And Jesus recognizing this loved him and went straight to his heart.

      Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, "You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me." Mark 10:21.

      The Word gave him the key to his freedom, but this is what rips me: the man would not take it. And the question for me is: When I pray that psalm and the Word gives me my key to freedom, will I take it? Or will the Adversary convince me that it is “too much” for me so that I cling to the “security” of my idols? It is a struggle with self to the death of self, and that is what makes it so hard.

  3. To lose your life for the sake of the gospel means to prioritize your faith in Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel above all else, even if it means facing persecution, suffering, or even death. It involves denying one's own desires and interests and submitting to God's will, as well as being willing to endure hardships and sacrifice for the sake of sharing the good news of salvation with others. Essentially, it means putting your trust in God and living a life that reflects that trust, even when it may be difficult or costly.

  4. Unfortunately many of us still cling to one thing or another. It does not have to be wealth. We can hold family, friends, our house, car, or job, our television or phone above God himself. The important thing is to confess our idolatry, ask God to not only make us aware of what we idolize more than He and then ask Him to help us abandon everything for Him.

  5. The world that we live in is decaying. The news are all about disgrace; I may choose not to watch them, but that doesn't mean bad things are not happening. The world is full of sadness and suffering, all because of the human greed. I can try to "live in a bubble", and ignore everything that surrounds me, thinking only of myself. But I'm not going to be happy; no technology will supply the part of the human heart which longs for fullness.

    Fullness of heart can only be achieved by the communion with the Spirit of Love. How do I cultivate this important relationship? Is it possible to be happy even here and now?

    Yes! By allowing the Comforter to fully take the place in my own heart.

  6. Apparently, the rich young ruler was already on his way to inherit eternal life when Jesus told him to keep the commandments and named most of the six that show our love to our neighbor and he told Jesus that he had kept them since his young years. But probably because he could see in Jesus and His followers something that he was still lacking, the young ruler wanted to know what Jesus would say about this fact and Jesus challenged him to become one of His followers like those who were following him were essentially lacking the kind of possessions the young ruler had. Jesus did not tell the young ruler what he needed to do to inherit eternal life at this point Jesus just told him what he had to do to be His follower like the 12 Apostles.

    • It seems to me that the "rich young ruler" thought he was on the way to eternal life because he was keeping all the commandments - at least to outward appearances. Jesus answered the ruler's question of "What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” by revealing to him that keeping the commandments goes deeper than external compliance. He revealed to the young ruler that his heart was bound to his riches, which he was unwilling to give up to follow Jesus.

      Jesus did not ask the rich young ruler to do anything extraordinary. His disciples gave up everything to follow Him. The fact that the ruler had more possessions to give up did not change his situation. The fact that he was unwilling to give up his possessions to follow Jesus demonstrated that he did not "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." (Matt. 6:33) But that is the only way to be saved! God must be first in our lives; He cannot be second.

      So how does that apply to us personally? Must we all sell all our possessions now to follow Jesus? Not necessarily. But I believe all our possessions must be yielded to Him to do with as His providence shall indicate. In other words, we must be ready to give up our possessions or whatever is dearest to us for the sake of Christ.

      In my own experience, I was brought to the place where I had to surrender to Him what I thought was my whole personality and way of interacting. As a firstborn, I had for a long time ended up as the de facto leader in many group situations that did not have a chosen leader. I was not a proverbial wall flower. However, I was brought to a place that very much felt like dying - I had to be willing to spend the rest of my life as a "wall flower," if that is what He wanted. For some of you that may not mean much, but if you're a natural leader, you may understand a little of what that meant to me.

      However, I found out that, after sincerely offering myself up to Him - yielding all of my*self,* that God did not ask me to be a wall flower. He did want me to be willing to give up my*self,* and that was the means of getting me to that place of giving up self - recognizing that all the "good" I had done up to that time (in my mid-20's) was shot through with threads of self-interest/selfishness. Although I had functioned as a spiritual leader for almost a decade at that time, I trace my genuine conversion to that point of throwing myself at the feet of Jesus with the soul cry of "Have mercy on me, O Lord!" (I still have to do that every day, and, when I forget, I inevitably dishonor my Lord in some way. Self resurrects very easily!)

      I believe that asking the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions to follow Him was Christ's attempt to bring Him to the same place He brought me - a recognition of what he lacked, a recognition that self was still on the throne. Self needs to be dethroned to follow Jesus - whether it someone rich or poor, talented or apparently untalented.

      Yielding ourselves fully to Him brings peace and blessings that cannot be imagined by those who have not experienced it. Jesus wanted the rich young ruler to have that experience. Unfortunately he "turned away sorrowful," and, unless he later repented, that sorrow only grew deeper and will consume him when he sees what he gave up in order to retain his earthly riches.

      Although the story looks different on the surface, the "rich young ruler" had much in common with the then-well-respected disciple Judas, who kept the purse and paid himself with its contents. Both chose earthly position and possessions in place of the Son of God.

  7. Jesus was having the rich young ruler to realize that following Him includes serving others. Prior to that, the rich young ruler was attempting only to do things so that he only could obtain eternal life. In other words, Jesus was attempting to broaden the rich young ruler’s mind to see it’s not only to achieve the goal of eternal life itself but also bring others along with him.

    Prior to learning about the gospel, one often has their own agenda in relationship to what they want to do in life. That agenda has to be given up (i.e. lose their life) to obtain the life God desires for that individual.


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