Rich Young Ruler
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do so that I may inherit eternal life?” But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not give false testimony, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth.” Looking at him, Jesus showed love to him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But he was deeply dismayed by these words, and he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
Have you ever stopped and pondered this man? No name and no identity, his story is meant to show us the characteristics of the person rather than the person himself. We know stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Goliath, Elijah but this man is nameless. Why?
Because he is us! Pure and raw, his qualities reflect our truest nature- the need to have resources, to be young and beautiful and to rule over people. All three characteristics slap us in the face when reading the text.
We long to be rich, young and rule. Our society places great value on these three characteristics. We look at our bank account or the backyard that needs to be updated and think, “If only I could win the lottery, then I would be content.” We look in the mirror or at a picture of our younger selves and long for a return of less gray hairs, wrinkles, and extra love handles on the sides. We see magazines of glamorous people and we long to look like them. We buy products to miraculously decrease the age into our former glory. And, we want authority not necessarily rulership but authority over our lives, our jobs, our relationships, our children, and a myriad of other ways to rule.
We long to be:
The lottery grossed $888.4 billion dollars in 2019 according to the California lottery. The average person spends $325 a year for a chance to win the lottery. In the Mega Millions, your odds of winning are about 1 in 176 million. If you're playing a single-state lottery, like the California Super Lotto, your odds increase — to 1 in 42 million. Those are miracle-sized odds yet, we continue to play. Why? Because we want to be rich. We believe our problems will be solved with more money. Guess what? They won’t. Money does not solve problems and the love of money is the root of all evil according to the Bible.
We have to be content with what God has given to us and stretch out to share our resources with others.
I was walking out of the grocery store today and I saw an elderly man waiting for a ride on the corner. Several people passed him by with little thought about him as he was clearly waiting. “What was he waiting for?” I thought to myself.
As a big red truck pulled up, the man started to get into this beautiful truck and I was struck with the thought that most people ignore the elderly. I smiled at him and said, “That’s a fancy, red truck you have sir.” And with a chesire grin, the man responded, “It’s my fifth one!” and got into the truck. His smile made my day and I thought, “How often we do not see the older person as valuable and in need of interaction!”
In James 2, the Bible talks about not showing partiality to people based on their looks.
How we stretch and grow is to see beyond the young or old person and look with a Jesus perspective.
What am I valuing in the person? Am I shirking away from the older generation in favor of the younger generation?
Can I speak kindness and hope into someone who does not fit the beautiful description of what the world values?
These are all synonyms for ruling and we can definitely identify with one or more of these adjectives. I am a recovering control freak- I like things my way and I don’t like to compromise. I call it being a good leader but really it boils down to I like it my way. We can call ruling a number of positive things and disguise the root of ruling. Pride! We like superiority and we take pleasure in being right and others being wrong. We enjoy being the center of attention and the one with all the answers. We like to lead and not follow. The exact opposite of what Jesus is saying to the rich, young ruler. Follow my commandments, give away your stuff (possessions and authority) and follow me.
Stretch out and trust Me, Jesus says.
And the ruler does not, he goes away sad. We think in our head,
“If Jesus was standing in front of me, the real true Jesus, I would jump at the chance to follow HIm.”
Really? He is doing that now daily.
Follow me with your possessions- share and give.
Follow me with your anxious heart and worries- trust and grow.
Follow me with your areas of authority-be humble and work as a team.
Follow me as you grow older- wisdom and revelation will come along with maturity.
Heart - Soul - Mind - Strength
We live in the now and the not yet!