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Matthew 19:16-22 (HCSB)
The Rich Young Ruler
16 Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:
Do not murder;
do not commit adultery;
do not steal;
do not bear false witness;
19 honor your father and your mother;
and love your neighbor as yourself.
20 “I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”
21 “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
22 When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
If you are like me, it would be easy to read this passage, point our finger, while shaking our heads, judging this “rich young ruler” and thinking, “what a dumb choice he made, choosing riches over following the Master of the universe”. Unfortunately, I think I am more alike to this young man than I think.
The Holy Spirit has a way of revealing our true heart, and as I have read this passage since I was young the Lord over time has shown me my true wicked self.
As an adult, I no longer read it and separate myself.
I no longer read this passage and frown upon his choice. No.
I read these verses and I see what Jesus is trying to explain to me in this short yet complex story.
Greed, covetousness, desire, call it what you will. It’s my sin…pure and simple.
I am the rich young ruler.
In a culture that screams, “YOLO. Have it your way. You deserve the best today. The customer is always right.” It can be difficult to discern on what and where our hearts should rest.
Being natural born sinners it can be difficult to make wise choices with our money, our time, and our thoughts.
In addition, I have four sets of eyes and ears watching and listening to me as I go about my day.
Watching where I spend my time. Watching where I spend my money. Watching what gets me excited and happy.
Listening to the words I use. Listening to how I verbalize my dis-contentedness with what I possess or don’t.
The enemy wants to destroy me…and you.
It would be easy for you and I to get bogged down by these things, because naturally we can’t win this fight by ourselves. The desire for things, more this, less of that, can become overwhelming and cause us to throw up our hands. But don’t give up just yet friends.
You see, Jesus has already won.
After 40 days and 40 nights of no eating, in His weakness, the enemy twisted God’s words and tempted Him with things that for you and me would have been easy to act like Esau, in Genesis, and give up our rights for some lentil soup and bread.
After sweating blood and counting the cost in His human tiredness He still carried out His blood offering of Himself for you…for me.
He has already won.
He has conquered death.
He has victory and in His graciousness has offered it to us.
Yes, you and I will still struggle with being greedy, being selfish, being discontent.
And yes, your children will struggle too.
But instead of being defeated, instead of getting frustrated at your children because they are selfish and egocentric, rather be encouraged.
Remember the man/woman in the mirror, the rich young ruler, and make a better choice than the one he did long ago.
Choose Jesus today.