Most of you are familiar with “the story of the rich young ruler” (Matthew 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30). He was the one who came to Jesus wanting to know what he must do that he might have eternal life? In answering this question, Jesus, who “looked upon him and loved him” ended up telling the young ruler, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (v. 21). Scripture tells us that the young ruler was saddened by what Jesus had said and that “he went away grieved” (v. 22).
Jesus would go on to say to his disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God” (v. 23). Was having riches the primary reason why the rich young ruler could not enter into the kingdom of God? Did Jesus, in answering the young ruler’s question, intend for us to follow these same instructions to sell all we possess and give to the poor so that we might have eternal life? Is this that one thing that the rich young ruler lacked? Most of the time when studying the word of God, we focus intently on the things that are actually written in the passages that we are looking at. However, on occasion, it is important that we focus our efforts and our attention on what is not included in the passage of scripture so that we can get clarity and understanding of what God is truly trying to reveal to us with the passage. For example, as we look at the list of commandments mentioned by Jesus, we find that he left out the most important one of all.
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:36-38).
Yes, that’s right; Jesus did not mention the greatest commandment of all in the list he gave to the young ruler. The most important commandment of all, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” was not even mentioned in the passage. Could this be what Jesus was talking about when he told the rich young ruler that he lacked one thing? If this be what Jesus was talking about, then it would appear that the young ruled did not love the God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. It appears that the young ruler loved his riches more than he loved God and this is why he was saddened and went away grieved. Even though he claimed to have observed from his youth all those commandments that were listed by Jesus, the one that Jesus did not list appears to be the one thing that the rich young ruler lacked, a love for God above all other things. The rich young ruler did have “great possessions” (v. 22), but the truth of the matter was that he was unable to give up those possession, even for the eternal life he sought, because “his possessions actually possessed him.”
At first glance, this story appears to be about having riches and how hard it will be for those who have such riches to enter in to the kingdom of God. However, Jesus would later say to his disciples, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:24). This message is actually about those who “trust in their riches” and how hard it is for those who put their riches ahead of God to enter into the kingdom of God. Those who “trust in their riches,” though they have great possessions, find it most difficult to part with their possessions, even for eternal life, because the truth of the matter is that “their possession actually posses them.” This is what the story of the rich young ruler revealed and that is why he was saddened and went away grieved. We are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteous” (Matthew 6:33), putting our love for God above everything else that we have in our life. There is nothing found in scripture against having possessions as long as we are not “possessed by our possessions,” for this is when it becomes hard or most difficult for those with riches to enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus went on to say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man, who “trust in his riches” to enter into the kingdom of God (v. 25).
We forever pray that our inspirational message will abundantly bless you and that you will be the better for having read it. If blessed by this message, please share so that others may be blessed as well. Amen.
Enjoy your blessings - KW