Retired Pastor Pat Duffin
A rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked a direct and most imperative question for himself and each one of us.
“Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” [Matthew 19:16-22]
By nature, we all tend to be short-sighted in our thinking. But this young man “who had it all” was thinking ahead and aware that he was still lacking something in his life. So, Jesus answered the man by telling him to go live a life that fulfills the Ten Commandments.
The young man replied, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Jesus zoomed in to the very heart of the matter.
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
To which the true core of the matter was revealed, “when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
This is one of the most heart-breaking stories in the entire Bible! Having received the “offer-of-a-life-time,” and eternity to follow, this young man, who had it all, turned his back and walked away because he could not, or would not, make the required exchange and let go of his “stuff”. He preferred to hold onto what he had at all costs.
And high was the cost, indeed! Jesus had just offered him the stupendous opportunity to walk with Him, to be with Him, to sit at His feet and hear His teaching, to see His miraculous works, to learn from Him and to be one of His disciples – not necessarily one of the 12 – but certainly one of the 70, or 120. All he had to “do”, because He asked Jesus what he needed to “do”, was let go of his “stuff” and walk with Jesus into a new life.
Clearly, this young man was accustomed to social status, comfort, privilege, security and the peace of mind that is supposed to come with financial independence. These are the things that both ordinary and highly privileged people seek after.
But they are an illusion and a delusion. All these things can be taken from us in an instant – including our very lives. Ultimately, these things offer no security at all.
As Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money…But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [that you worry about] shall be added to you,” [Matthew 6:19-21, 24, 33]
If the rich young man had truly fulfilled the law as he claimed, he would have loved God and his fellow-men more than he did all his “stuff”.
And, he would have been willing to give up his wealth to the service of God and his fellow-men.
But, most tragically, he rejected even this last opportunity to seek salvation and do good with his wealth. Instead, he chose to hold out on his Saviour and to hold on to his “stuff”. He chose to reject the amazing invitation from Jesus, turned away from his Saviour and was never heard from again.
How high is the cost of holding out from Christ just so we can hold on to our stuff?
“What would it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?” – Jesus