Jesus Counsels the Rich Young Ruler
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
With God All Things Are Possible
Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 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.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Mark 10:17-31 NKJV)
Did you notice that when Jesus saw the confusion of His disciples He clarified His statement? “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Jesus wasn’t saying that the wealthy couldn’t enter the kingdom of God, but He was saying it was impossible for them to do it on their own. Why? Because, if a wealthy people (or anyone for that matter) puts their trust in the treasures of this earth then they are not putting their trust in God. This is a form of idol worship.
I have a feeling that the rich young ruler didnt walk away sorrowful simply because he liked his great possessions and would miss them. He walked away because he trusted in his things and believed that they would bring him great peace, pleasure, comfort, and meet his daily needs. What he didn’t understand was that if he were to fully submit to The Lord he would be provided for abundantly – here on earth and in eternity.
I’d like to point something else out. The passage says “Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him…” Jesus loved the young ruler and because He loved the man Jesus gave him instructions, that if followed, would have have brought abundant life – something material things cannot give. Jesus had something better than things in mind for the man. That something better was a life fully submitted to Christ.
I’m not a wealthy person (at least not by American standards) but I still struggle like the rich young ruler did. I still believe that if I have enough money that my daily needs will be met. Sadly, when an unexpected expense arises I turn to my bank account instead of Jesus. When I’m feeling depressed or inadequate I wonder through online shops looking for a new possession to make me feel good. When what I should be doing is turning to Jesus to lift me out of my depression and remind me that He has made me adequate.
Christ looks at me and at you and loves us. He doesn’t want us to suffer in a life controlled by a desire for material wealth. He wants us to choose a life fully submitted to Him. Even when submission seems impossible, He wants us to say, “The Lord I can’t do this on my own, but I trust You. With You all things are possible.”
Lord, I thank you that you have something better for me than just stuff. I know that that having money isn’t a bad thing, but depending on it instead of you only leads to sorrow. I want to live a life surrender to you, not one held prisoner by material things. Lord, if it is your desire for me, (and though I pray this with hesitation) I will sale all my possessions, because I trust that have something better in mind. I trust you. In your name I pray. Amen.
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I hope my thoughts help you understand how this scripture can be applied to our modern lives, but don’t just take my word for it. Dive into The Bible yourself, pray, and ask the Lord to reveal His truth to you personally.
Have a question or a thought? Please feel free to leave a comment.